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This article was published on June 30, 2017

Twitter ought to hurry up and let users flag fake news

Twitter ought to hurry up and let users flag fake news Image by: Sattalat Pukkum/Shutterstock

Twitter is believed to be testing a feature to allow users to report tweets containing fake news and bogus or misleading information, reports The Washington Post.

Sadly, that’s not quite enough reason to celebrate: a company spokesperson told WP, “There are no current plans to launch any type of product along these lines.” That might be because it doesn’t have a set timeline for the release of this feature, but Twitter’s late to the game as it is.

Tackling the problem of misinformation is crucial to any social platform, and it’s especially pertinent to Twitter, where fake accounts and bots that can spread bogus posts are rampant.

According to Twitter Audit, a tool that determines how many fake followers an account has by looking at indicators among followers – over half of CNN and Fox News’ audience on the platform are fake. That’s 17 million and nearly 7 million respectively. The site notes that President Donald Trump has about 13.5 million fake followers.

It’s important to realize that these bots can cause misinformation to spread like wildfire; with enough traction, such posts can start to show up on Facebook, as well as messaging services like WhatsApp, where it can be harder to trace fake content to its source and stop it from spreading.

Facebook and Google have already launched their own attempts to tackle fake news, so where’s Twitter at?

The company’s VP of Public Policy, Gov & Philanthropy, Colin Crowell, noted earlier this month that Twitter was doubling down on its efforts to tackle bots, by “expanding our team and resources, and building new tools and processes.” But with misinformation becoming an increasingly troubling issue on the web, the company would do well to step on the gas and empower users to help stop the spread of bogus content.