Twitter slows retweets ahead of election to combat viral misinformation

Twitter is making it harder for tweets to go viral ahead of the election in order to combat the spread of misinformation, it said Friday.

Beginning Friday and continuing through the election, users who hit the retweet button on a tweet will be taken to a screen where they can add commentary to their retweet. Users can skip the commentary, but that will lead to extra steps to finalize the retweet.

In announcing the new process in a blog post, the social network explained that it wanted to add “some extra friction” to retweets.

“We hope it will encourage everyone to not only consider why they are amplifying a tweet, but also increase the likelihood that people add their own thoughts, reactions and perspectives to the conversation,” Twitter said in its post.

The San Francisco-based company is also rolling out a number of other changes to its site in time for the election.

Anyone who attempts to retweet a tweet that has been flagged with a misinformation label by Twitter will receive a full-screen alert telling them that it contains disputed information, as well as a link to additional information on the topic.

Twitter will also limit the spread of viral tweets by temporarily suspending features meant to generate more engagement on the platform, including preventing “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from popping up on users’ feeds.

“This will likely slow down how quickly Tweets from accounts and topics you don’t follow can reach you, which we believe is a worthwhile sacrifice to encourage more thoughtful and explicit amplification,” the company said.

Twitter will also remove any tweets from political candidates claiming victory in an election “before it is authoritatively called” by state election officials or “at least two authoritative, national news outlets that make independent election calls.”

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