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Twitter tests more attention-grabbing misinformation labels

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Twitter is considering changes to the way it contextualizes misleading tweets that the company doesn’t believe are dangerous enough to be removed from the platform outright.

The company announced the test in a tweet Thursday with an image of the new misinformation labels. Within the limited test, those labels will appear with color-coded backgrounds now, making them much more visible in the feed while also giving users a way to quickly parse the information from visual cues. Some users will begin to see the change this week.

Tweets that Twitter deems “misleading” will get a red background with a short explanation and a notice that users can’t reply to, like or share the content. Yellow labels will appear on content that isn’t as actively misleading. In both cases, Twitter has made it more clear that you can click the labels to find verified information about the topic at hand (in this case, the pandemic).

“People who come across the new labels as a part of this limited test should expect a more communicative impact from the labels themselves both through copy, symbols and colors used to distill clear context about not only the label, but the information or content they are engaging with,” a Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Image Credits: Twitter

Twitter found that even tiny shifts in design could impact how people interacted with labeled tweets. In a test the company ran with a pink variation of the label, users clicked through to the authoritative information that Twitter provided more but they also quote-tweeted the content itself more, furthering its spread. Twitter says that it tested many variations on the written copy, colors and symbols that made their way into the new misinformation labels.

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The changes come after a long public feedback period that convinced the company that misinformation labels needed to stand out better in a sea of tweets. Facebook’s own misinformation labels have also faced criticism for blending in too easily and failing to create much friction for potentially dangerous information on the platform.

Twitter first created content labels as a way to flag “manipulated media” — photos and videos altered to deliberately mislead people, like the doctored deepfake of Nancy Pelosi that went viral back in 2019. Last May, Twitter expanded its use of labels to address the wave of COVID-19 misinformation that swept over social media early in the pandemic.

A month ago, the company rolled out new labels specific to vaccine misinformation and introduced a strike-based system into its rules. The idea is for Twitter to build a toolkit it can use to respond in a proportional way to misinformation depending on the potential for real-world harm.

“… We know that even within the space of our policies, not all misleading claims are equally harmful,” a Twitter spokesperson said. “For example, telling someone to drink bleach in order to cure COVID is a more immediate and severe harm than sharing a viral image of a shark swimming on a flooded highway and claiming that’s footage from a hurricane. (That’s a real thing that happens every hurricane season.)”

Labels are just one of the content moderation options that Twitter developed over the course of the last couple of years, along with warnings that require a click-through and pop-up messages designed to subtly steer people away from impulsively sharing inflammatory tweets.

When Twitter decides not to remove content outright, it turns to an a la carte menu of potential content enforcement options:

  • Apply a label and/or warning message to the Tweet
  • Show a warning to people before they share or like the Tweet;
  • Reduce the visibility of the Tweet on Twitter and/or prevent it from being recommended;
  • Turn off likes, replies, and Retweets; and/or
  • Provide a link to additional explanations or clarifications, such as in a curated landing page or relevant Twitter policies.

In most scenarios, the company will opt for all of the above.

“While there is no single answer to addressing the unique challenges presented by the range of types of misinformation, we believe investing in a multi-prong approach will allow us to be nimble and shift with the constantly changing dynamic of the public conversation,” the spokesperson said.

TechCrunch

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NEWS

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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