Unlike Polis, Twitter’s project has to reach consensus one at a time, not on one issue, but on any possible controversy on the platform. Community Notes does this by estimating the diversity of opinions among participants, based on how different users rate the usefulness of other people’s notes. Twitter’s version of bridging the divide is finding notes that raters find useful, and these raters often don’t agree on many things that suggest they have different perspectives. The core technology of Polis and Community Notes is called bridge-based ranking. Megill believes the team at Twitter has taken it to new technical heights. “Birdwatch has made a major breakthrough in scaling this type of system to larger populations and more problems,” he said.
twitter vice president of product says early this month Community Watch usage has exploded recently, but the project is still in its early stages. The data is open source, and as of Nov. 8, it only saw 38,494 notes from 5,433 people — a small group that oversees a platform with more than 200 million users. Bridging-based rankings also don’t change human nature. People are more likely to take notes on tweets expressing opinions that differ from their own, an independent study has found.One of its authors, David Rand, concluded that Financial Times “Partisanship is the primary driver of user engagement with Birdwatch.”
Twitter’s own recently released study also reported a partisan divide, with far more Democrats than Republicans saying the notes were helpful.but most both The group felt that the notes selected by the system were helpful rather than unhelpful. Community annotations are also thought to reduce the number of tweets users share that are obscured by a flood of warning annotations.The project can also claim some noteworthy (if anecdotal) victories: either the white house and Elon Musk The widely circulated tweet was deleted after Community Watch pointed out a lack of context.
Perhaps Community Notes’ greatest weakness is also shared by Polis. “Those digital democracy platforms don’t have any real authority,” Karen Yu, a Taiwanese lawmaker, told me. The city-state still relied on politicians to translate the consensus it gained from its citizens into law. Since users of social platforms have very little control over the services they use, community notes have even less leverage. Elon Musk can make it — and all the community notes — disappear with a flick of the wrist.
But I don’t think he will. Mark Zuckerberg once told an old joke about Twitter, saying that the company’s management was so clueless that “they drove a clown car into a gold mine and fell in. Elon Musk may have turned his own clown car into his own gold mine. It seems unlikely that he knew Birdwatch existed before buying the platform, but he stumbled upon one of the most exciting innovations in content moderation ever, not just from Twitter, but from any major platform.
For Musk, who is saddled with Twitter debt, there’s a lot to love about Community Notes. It’s scalable, powered by algorithms, and doesn’t require hiring large numbers of content moderators. Most importantly, it shifts the onus of determining the truth from Twitter itself to its users.