Twitter says it doesn’t intend to launch a feature that would allow users to report “fake news” on the platform.
On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that the social network had developed a “prototype” of a button that would let people on Twitter report false or misleading information posted on the site, prompting concern from critics that it would be open to abuse, though it wasn’t clear if it would ultimately be released.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said that it has “no current plans to launch anything along the lines described.”
They told Business Insider that Twitter is not currently building such a feature (a spokesperson previously “would not comment” to The Washington Post “on whether it was being tested”).
They did not reply to a query as to whether the social network has tried to create one in the past, however.
The spread of “fake news” and misinformation online has been facilitated by social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and has become an increasing concern for many following the shock election of Donald Trump as US president in 2016.
Social media firms are taking steps to try and curtail its spread on its platforms. Facebook flags potentially misleading stories with visual warnings, and also lets users report misinformation.
But the issue has also become fiercely political, with the term frequently deployed to disparage critical news stories by Trump and his supporters, as well as others across the political spectrum. (Just on Wednesday, the President went on a tweetstorm attacking the “Fake News Media,” from CNN to The Washington Post.)
After The Washington Post published its story, critics — on both the left and the right — expressed scepticism about the wisdom of a button to report fake news.
Mathew Ingram, a tech and media reporter who previously worked for Fortune, wrote: “I can almost guarantee that every CNN and NYT post that goes up will get flagged.” Charlie Warzel, a journalist at BuzzFeed, observed: “Just like how the term ‘fake news’ was re-appropriated to use against the MSM, this button, too, would be used relentlessly by trolls.”
And Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, tweeted sarcastically: “Nothing at all could go wrong with this.”
In a blog post published earlier in June, Twitter VP of public policy Colin Crowell suggested the company intends to take a fairly hands-off approach to misinformation: “Twitter’s open and real-time nature is a powerful antidote to the spreading of all types of false information … We, as a company, should not be the arbiter of truth. Journalists, experts and engaged citizens Tweet side-by-side correcting and challenging public discourse in seconds.”