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Twitter starts labelling tweets with manipulated media in India: How this works


By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

December 2, 2020 12:54:14 pm





Twitter is now labelling tweets with manipulated videos, pictures as such in India as well. (Image source: Bloomberg)

Twitter has started labelling tweets, which include manipulated media in India as well. Twitter had first announced it would start labelling tweets with manipulated media back in February 2020. The social media website has taken a lot of steps to combat misinformation on the platform this year. In light of the US elections, it also started labelling tweets with misinformation or disputed claims. One result of Twitter’s labelling was that US President Donald Trump found most of his tweets post-election being called out for misinformation.

At the time of the US election, Twitter had said in a blogpost that it will “label tweets that falsely claim a win for any candidate and will remove tweets that encourage violence or call for people to interfere with election results or the smooth operation of polling places.”

Twitter’s official policy had been that for an election to be called, it would “require either an announcement from state election officials, or a public projection from at least two authoritative, national news outlets that make independent election calls.” However, these were applied to the US elections. It is not clear whether Twitter plans to extend this kind of labelling to Indian elections in the future.

What does Twitter’s warning on manipulated media state?

Any image or video which Twitter labels as manipulated media has a label at the bottom. If you click on the label, it expands on the definition.

Twitter’s warning reads, “You may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm. In addition, we may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand the media’s authenticity and to provide additional context.

What is manipulated media? How does Twitter decide what is manipulated?

In the February blog post, Twitter had explained how it decides whether an image has been “deceptively altered or fabricated.” The factors in consideration are:

  • First, if the content has been substantially edited in a manner that fundamentally alters its composition, sequence, timing, or framing.”
  • Second, Twitter checks if “any visual or auditory information (such as new video frames, overdubbed audio, or modified subtitles) that has been added or removed.”
  • Third, is whether the “media depicting a real person has been fabricated or simulated.”

Twitter also says it will consider the context in which the media is shared, keeping in mind if the media could cause “confusion or misunderstanding or suggests a deliberate intent to deceive people about the nature or origin of the content.”

Twitter also makes it clear that if a fake or manipulated image claims to be real, it will get labeled.  The platform also looks at the text accompanying or within the media, the metadata associated with the media, the information on the profile of the person sharing the media and websites linked in the profile of the person sharing the media, or in the tweet sharing the media before adding the label.

Does Twitter remove manipulated media?

Twitter says that tweets that have “synthetic and manipulated media are subject to removal under this policy if they are likely to cause harm.” These harms include threats to the physical safety of a person or group, risk of mass violence or widespread civil unrest and finally, threats to the privacy or ability of a person or group to freely express themselves or participate in civic events.

What does Twitter do with such tweets?

Other than applying a label warning of manipulated media, Twitter will also show a warning to people before they retweet or like the tweet. It will also reduce the visibility of the tweet and prevent it from being recommended.

What steps had Twitter taken during the US election?

During the course of the US election, Twitter labeled tweets that prematurely called out the election result, and users were redirected to the site’s official US election page. Twitter had also announced that if people tried to retweet a tweet with misleading information, they would see a “prompt pointing them to credible information about the topic before they are able to amplify it.” Further, labeled tweets are “de-amplified”, according to Twitter’s own recommendation systems.

Twitter also said it would “ add additional warnings and restrictions on tweets with a misleading information label from US political figures (including candidates and campaign accounts), US-based accounts with more than 100,000 followers, or that obtain significant engagement.”

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