Twitter is rolling out a new experimental feature that will prompt users to read an article before they share it.
According to a tweet from the company, it’s testing the prompt on Android. When users retweet an article that they haven’t opened, Twitter may prompt them to read it.
“For now, it’s just available in English for people using Twitter for Android,” a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. Further, the company said that it may run the experiment for at least a few weeks to gather data and make an informed decision about further implementation.
Sharing an article can spark conversation, so you may want to read it before you Tweet it.
To help promote informed discussion, we're testing a new prompt on Android –– when you Retweet an article that you haven't opened on Twitter, we may ask if you'd like to open it first.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 10, 2020
However, the prompt only looks at whether users have clicked the link or not, and doesn’t take into account how much time someone spent on the page.
I could also see the prompt being problematic in some niche cases. For example, I often retweet content shared by the MobileSyrup Twitter account. The system could prompt me to read an article I retweeted from the account, which chances are I wrote. But again, that’s a niche case.
Twitter’s product lead, Kayvon Beykpour, explained in a tweet that the feature is intended to cut down on the dangers of things going viral if people haven’t read them.
It's easy for links/articles to go viral on Twitter. This can be powerful but sometimes dangerous, especially if people haven't read the content they're spreading. This feature (on Android for now) encourages people to read a linked article prior to Retweeting it. https://t.co/qdYZ8w9e27
— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) June 10, 2020
Further, some users reportedly already received prompts to read articles they tried to retweet. However, one user claims that they did read the article, so the prompt was mistaken. Users also noted that there seems to be no pattern behind the prompt, with it showing up sometimes but not always.
I did read it, actually 🤔 pic.twitter.com/sqikMwu0pV
— Eric Tendian (@EricTendian) June 10, 2020
Ultimately, it remains to be seen how effective a tool this is. Perhaps with some refinement, this prompt could effectively cut down on the spread of misinformation by forcing people to actually read and consider what they’re sharing instead of blindly spreading it around Twitter.