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Featured Research: Community-Based Fact-Checking on Twitter’s Birdwatch Platform

Twitter has recently introduced “Birdwatch,” a community-driven approach to address misinformation on Twitter. In this work, we empirically analyze how users interact with this new feature. Our empirical analysis yields the following main findings: (i) users more frequently file Birdwatch notes for misleading than not misleading tweets. These misleading tweets are primarily reported because of factual errors, lack of important context, or because they contain unverified claims. (ii) Birdwatch notes are more helpful to other users if they link to trustworthy sources and if they embed a more positive sentiment. (iii) The helpfulness of Birdwatch notes depends on the social influence of the author of the fact-checked tweet. For influential users with many followers, Birdwatch notes yield a lower level of consensus among users and community-created fact checks are more likely to be seen as being incorrect. Altogether, our findings can help social media platforms to formulate guidelines for users on how to write more helpful fact checks. At the same time, our analysis suggests that community-based fact-checking faces challenges regarding biased views and polarization among the user base.

Paper at ICWSM