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Changing how retweets work, Twitter seeks to slow down election misinformation

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Twitter announced Friday a major set of changes to the way its platform would work as the social network braces for the most contentious, uncertain and potentially high-stakes election in modern U.S. history.

In what will likely be the most noticeable change, Twitter will try a new tactic to discourage users from retweeting posts without adding their own commentary. Starting on October 20 in a “global” change, the platform will prompt anyone who goes to retweet something to share a quote tweet instead. The change will stay in place through the “end of election week,” when Twitter will decide if the change needs to stick around for longer.

Gif via Twitter

“Though this adds some extra friction for those who simply want to Retweet, 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 of the change, which some users may see on Twitter for the web starting on Friday.

Twitter has in recent months been experimenting with changes that add friction to the platform. Last month, the company announced that it would roll out a test feature prompting users to click through a link before retweeting it to the platform at large. The change marks a major shift in thinking for social platforms, which grew aggressively by prioritizing engagement above all other measures.

The company also clarified its policy on election results, and now a candidate for office “may not claim an election win before it is authoritatively called.” Twitter will look to state election officials or projected results from at least two national news sources to make that determination.

Twitter stopped short of saying it will remove those posts, but said that it will add to any content claiming premature victory a misleading information label pointing users toward its hub for vetted election information. The company does plan to remove any tweets “meant to incite interference with the election process or with the implementation of election results,” including ones that incite violence.

Next week, Twitter will also implement new restrictions on misleading tweets it labels, showing users a pop-up prompt linking to credible information when they go to view the tweet. Twitter applies these labels to tweets that spread misinformation about COVID-19, elections and voting, and anything that contains manipulated media, like deepfakes or otherwise misleading edited videos.

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The company will also take additional measures against misleading tweets that get a label when they’re from a U.S. political figure, candidate or campaign. To see a tweet with one of its labels, a user will have to tap through a warning. Labeled tweets will have likes, normal retweets and replies disabled.

These new measures will also apply to labeled tweets from anyone with more than 100,000 followers or tweets that are getting viral traction. “We expect this will further reduce the visibility of misleading information, and will encourage people to reconsider if they want to amplify these Tweets,” Twitter said in its announcement.

Twitter warning on labeled tweet

Image via Twitter

Twitter will also turn off recommendations in the timeline in an effort to “slow down” how fast tweets can reach people from accounts they don’t follow. The company calls the decision a “worthwhile sacrifice to encourage more thoughtful and explicit amplification.” The company will also only allow trending content that comes with additional context to show up in the “for you” recommendation tab in an effort to slow the spread of misinformation.

The company acknowledges that it plays a “critical role” in protecting the U.S. election, adding that it had staffed up dedicated teams to monitoring the platform and “respond rapidly” on election night and in the potentially uncertain period of time until authoritative election results are clear.

TechCrunch

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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