In a bid to “promote informed discussion,” Twitter is testing a new prompt on Android that would ask users if they have read a news article first before they retweet it.
The popular social media platform made the announcement on Wednesday via its @TwitterSupport handle.
“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,” it wrote.
Twitter answers queries
Understandably, the announcement sparked a flood of questions from Twitter users seeking more clarity about it. Below is a summary of the “Q&A session” on the @TwitterSupport account.
Q: Will this apply only to news publications or all links? A: “For this experiment, the prompts apply to links to news outlet domains.”
Q: Why just on Android? A: “Keeping the experiment to one platform lets us build and test as fast and effectively as possible.”
Q: So you’re harvesting more data and generating additional clicks/traffic to sell to advertisers….got it. A: “We’re not testing ad products with these prompts. They’re designed to help empower healthy and informed public conversation.”
Q: Are you tracking what we read on the internet, separate from the twitter app? Are you tracking what we read in print in an actual newspaper (I believe those still exist)?
A: “For this experiment, if you Retweet a Tweet that contains an article link, we’ll check if you’ve recently clicked that article link only on Twitter, not elsewhere.”
Q: So if I saw the article that I’ve read somewhere else and decided to retweet it, you’d assume I haven’t because I didn’t click on it from your platform? A: “If you see the prompt, you’ll always have the option to go ahead and Retweet.”
In another reply, Twitter further clarified the rationale behind the experiment: “We wanted to test a way to improve the health of a conversation as it gets started. And to see if reminding people to read an article before they share it leads to more informed discussion.”
It’s unclear at this stage whether this experiment would be made permanent or not. However, at least one high profile Twitter user, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, likes the idea.
He tweeted, “Great point. Many articles are retweeted based on headlines that don’t match the content.”