April 21, 2024
Yes, Threads is running a fact-checking program, but the system isn't fully rolled out


Threads, Meta’s Twitter-like service and competitor to X, may be distancing itself from politics, but that doesn’t mean it won’t try to tackle the misinformation that spreads across social media — particularly in the lead-up to national elections. Following user reports of fact-checks spotted on the network, the company confirmed it’s engaged with fact-checking organizations to address false information circulating on Threads, but has not fully rolled out direct fact-checking of Threads content as of yet.

Meta had announced in December that in early 2024 its fact-checking partners would be able to review and rate false content directly on Threads. In the meantime, Meta was only able to match existing fact-checks to “near-identical content on Threads,” it said. From the looks of the users’ reports of fact-checking now appearing on Threads, it’s a case of matched ratings, not the more anticipated direct fact-checking of Threads content that people are seeing.

The company confirmed this was the case, telling TechCrunch that it hasn’t finalized the ability for fact-checkers to rate content directly on Threads yet, but would soon.

 

Post by @culturecrave

View on Threads

 

Threads users had noticed that warning labels appeared on posts — in one case, both as an interstitial over a false AI-generated video and as a pop-up that appeared from the bottom of the screen.

The warning message reads “False Information,” followed by an explanation that “the same false information was reviewed in another thread by fact-checkers. There may be small differences.” It also then noted that “independent fact-checkers say this information has no basis in fact,” and documents which fact-checking sources came to this conclusion.

Below this, users can read the name of the fact-checking organizations, and the sources’ conclusion — e.g. “False” — along with additional information about the content and why it’s false.

Image Credits: screenshot of Threads

One example of this fact-check can be viewed here on Threads. It relates to a video that had been circulating in Telegram chats, which claims to be from a France 24 broadcast. However, the video had never aired or even been made — it was AI-generated, the fact-checking organizations both state.

In our tests, the fact-check did initially hide the Threads post with the video but offered a “See Post” button to click through and view it. You could optionally tap on “See why” if you wanted to know why it was being hidden for false information. The feature feels a bit underdeveloped, however, as the links to fact-checking websites only worked on mobile, not desktop, and the informational warning below the video, once viewed, was in small text that could be easily missed.

Image Credits: Threads screenshot

Though full fact-checking capabilities have not yet rolled out to Threads, when they do the feature will differentiate Threads from its rival X, where fact-checks are now largely managed via crowdsourcing. With X’s Community Notes (originally called Birdwatch when the company was known as Twitter), independent volunteers fact-check posts and add additional context or corrections. The system’s algorithm then attempts to find a consensus among people who don’t usually share the same views. If both sides agree a fact check is warranted, the Community Note goes live. Meanwhile, the X team can’t edit or modify the notes, the company’s website explains. Instead, X only takes action on posts that violate its rules, terms, or privacy policy.

Elon Musk has championed the use of Community Notes since acquiring the company in 2022, having believed that Twitter’s former team was guilty of left-wing bias and censorship. However, a ProPublica report found that Community Notes hasn’t yet sufficiently scaled to address the misinformation circulating on X about the Israel-Hamas war. What’s more, debunked claims were often spread by Verified accounts with blue checks, giving them higher visibility, it said.

Meta is clearly taking a more cautious approach to news and the potential for misinformation.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said last year that Threads will not “amplify news” on its platform, upsetting journalists and news consumers who were looking for a Twitter alternative. The company also made good on those promises last week when it announced it would no longer proactively surface political content in its recommendations across both Threads and Instagram. News and politics may still appear in the app’s new trends feature, “today’s topics,” however.





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