Twitter’s fledgling misinformation tool is adding aliases

Twitter announced on Monday that its crowdsourced misinformation-fighting tool, Birdwatch, is introducing aliases for its contributors. Contributors will have one chance to pick from five randomized alias options (as opposed to using their actual usernames), which will be available through the Birdwatch link.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable contributing to Birdwatch,” the Birdwatch account tweeted, “and aliases let you write and rate notes without sharing your Twitter username.”

If you haven’t heard of Birdwatch before, here’s what you missed: Twitter started the program around the beginning of this year, with the goal of allowing users to collaboratively fact-check tweets and combat misinformation by flagging misleading posts and providing notes to give more context.

In a thread, the Birdwatch account noted that the majority of active and prospective participants (especially those who identify as female and Black) preferred to use an alias. Birdwatch also linked to research that showed that aliases could potentially help decrease bias and polarization, by shifting attention away from the author and towards the content of a note.

“To ensure this change doesn’t come at the expense of accountability, we’re also rolling out Birdwatch profile pages that make it easy to see one’s past contributions,” Birdwatch added.

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