By Georgia Wells
Twitter Inc. will begin prompting users to comment on posts before retweeting them and pointing users to credible content before sharing certain posts as part of initiatives aimed at slowing the spread of misinformation ahead of the U.S. presidential election.
The moves unveiled Friday -- to throttle its retweet function and tweak its algorithm to make it harder for certain posts to go viral -- are among the boldest yet for the social-media platform, which has gained prominence for its ability to quickly share content to wide swaths of users world-wide.
Where users previously hit a button to reshare, or "retweet," items, they will now be directed to a screen that will encourage adding commentary before resharing posts. If users don't write anything, their post will still appear as a traditional retweet -- but the change "adds some extra friction" in the process, according to a company blog post.
Twitter will start experimenting with this change for some users later on Friday and will roll it out to all users Oct. 20. The change will last at least through the end of the week of the U.S. election.
"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," Twitter's legal, policy, trust and safety head Vijaya Gadde and product lead Kayvon Beykpour wrote in a blog post Friday.
Social-media companies have been scrambling to clamp down on potential confusion and ways their platforms can be abused to undermine the integrity of the political process in the U.S.
Facebook Inc. has said it would suspend all political advertising after the polls close Nov. 3, something that other platforms including Twitter and TikTok have already implemented, and many platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, have taken steps to ban QAnon, the fast-growing conspiracy movement.
Twitter has conducted prior experiments to encourage users to read articles before sharing them on the site.
Additionally, Twitter plans to display a new prompt that provides credible information when users attempt to retweet a post that Twitter has identified as containing misleading information. This change starts next week.
Twitter currently labels tweets that contain misleading information about Covid-19 and U.S. elections, among other items. Tweets that receive these labels are de-amplified in Twitter's algorithm, and the company, in some cases, will remove these tweets.
(More to Come)
Write to Georgia Wells at Georgia.Wells@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires