It’s been a long time coming, but Twitter finally has a way by which users can report fake news and other forms of misinformation posted on the social media platform.

Twitter rolled out a beta version of its “It’s Misleading” option to users in the United States, Australia, and South Korea on Tuesday, August 17th. This additional feature was developed in response to growing clamor over the past two years from users who demanded a way by which they could flag questionable content.

Company execs, however, are quick to caution the public that, during the beta stage, flagging posts may not necessarily lead to any direct action on the part of platform admins. In its official statement, Twitter said that any input may help improve its anti-misinformation drive but that it “may not take action and cannot respond to each report.” 

Twitter braces to shut down misinformation

Twitter’s latest move is one of several recent initiatives in the social media landscape which are meant to address the need to shut down various forms of misinformation. For example, Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, added a reporting feature last year that would enable users to flag questionable content, particularly with regard to health, politics, public affairs, as well as race and gender issues.

Facebook’s heightened vigilance against fake news and deliberate misinformation is seen as the result of its recent clash with the US government since Joe Biden took over as president. The current administration has called out the social network for not having preventive measures that would have stopped the January 6 Capitol riot in its tracks.

The government has also questioned why Facebook did little to prevent the spread of anti-vaccination and COVID denial posts throughout the past year, something which is being considered a factor in the way cases continue to rise both in the US and other countries. 

Fight against anti-vaxx misinformation

Since March 2020, just as the pandemic hit, social media networks have come under fire for not stemming the tide of disastrous misinformation from their users. Critics particularly came down heavy on the spread of false information and conspiracy theories surrounding COVID-19 from COVID deniers and anti-vaccination groups. 

The rapid spread of anti-vaxx content has complicated matters with regard to vaccination drives, masking mandates, and social distancing measures in various countries.

Even before the pandemic, both Facebook and Twitter came under fire for the way political content was presented and handled online. This issue came to a head on January 6th when Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol.

Moving forward, Twitter hopes that the new feature will help pave the way for better user-driven content moderation – and it isn’t the platform’s only initiative in that direction. A system under the working name of Birdwatch is currently in development and may eventually be used by registered users to add contextual notes to content.