July 12, 2024
X's crowdsourced fact-checking system will now let contributors consider opposing viewpoints

After X’s crowdsourced fact-checking system faced multi-day delays to correct misinformation on the platform, the company formerly known as Twitter has announced a series of improvements focused on speeding up the pace as well as other changes designed to alert users when notes were added to posts they liked, replied to or reposted, and more.

The changes follow X CEO Linda Yaccarino’s post on Monday promising that Community Notes would now “appear more quickly on X.” The exec had also recently reposted an explanation from X’s Safety account that reported there had been more than 50 million posts globally over the past couple of days that referenced the weekend’s terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, demonstrating the scale of how much content around the war was being circulated on the platform.

On Wednesday evening, X offered another update on the progress it has made with Community Notes, which included note previews now being supported on both Android and web, with support “coming soon” to iOS. By allowing users to see previews of notes, these fact-checks written by community members can gather ratings more quickly, which then results in worthwhile and accurate notes going live at a faster pace.

In addition, X said it has “significantly scaled” up a feature that would send a notification to people who had liked, replied to or reposted a post that had later received a Community Note fact-check. With more notifications being sent out, the hope is that those who redistributed misleading information or disinformation may be encouraged to remove their posts or at least edit them to update the post with more context.

Another improvement involves media matching, meaning notes that are written on images and videos will now be displayed on more posts that contain that same media. This system allowed notes written this week to be shown on an additional 3,000+ posts and growing, as the media is re-used in new posts. The company said the system is being improved over time, as well.

The recent updates around media matching, notifications and not previews were launched over the past 24 hours, X said, after “hundreds” of new notes have gone live across thousands of posts. An earlier post narrowed that number down to more than 500 unique notes written related to the terrorist attacks, which had then increased to 700 by the time CEO Linda Yaccarino responded to a warning from European Commissioner Thierry Breton over X’s failures to address the sharing of disinformation and illegal content on its platform.

But with the number of posts about the terrorist attacks now numbering in the millions, it’s not clear if X’s crowdsourced fact-checking system will be able to keep up, despite the fast pace of technology development. As NBC News reported, many fact-checks were initially delayed for multiple days before going live, and many more false posts with hundreds of thousands of views had no notes even attached to them.

This is despite X’s proclaimed “massive speed improvement” rolled out last week that was meant to make notes appear 1.5 hours to 3.5 hours faster than before.

In light of recent events, X has made other changes as well. The company updated its public interest policy to redefine the newsworthiness of posts by removing the requirement of having at least 100,000 followers for a post to be considered newsworthy. X said it’s been coordinating with @GIFCT_official to try to keep terrorist content from being distributed on its platform, which included taking action against tens of thousands of posts for sharing graphic media, violent speech and hateful conduct.

Yaccarino also dropped out of the WSJ Tech Live conference, saying that “with the global crisis unfolding, Linda and her team must remain fully focused on X platform safety.” (Though some doubt if that was the only reason, given her recent disastrous appearance at the Code conference.) 

X owner Elon Musk has long championed Community Notes as a better alternative to Twitter’s former moderation efforts, which he had been highly critical of in the past. Last year, he posted that the notes system was a “gamechanger for improving accuracy” on the platform.

But under Musk’s leadership, Community Notes also play a bigger role than they did in the pre-Musk years as the employee headcount has been reduced, including through layoffs, impacting the trust and safety and moderation teams.

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