Created in 2006, Twitter today is one of the leading active social networks in the world. Among the millions of accounts, one of the most popular forms of interaction is Retweet, which emerged in 2009. The tool, however, is the biggest regret of its creator, Chris Wetherell.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, the developer said his intention was to "raise the voices of underrepresented communities", but believes the goal has not been achieved. In parallel, research and studies indicate that Retweet encourages the viralization of fake news on social networks.
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At BuzzFeed, Wetherell commented that his reaction to observing Twitter users using the Retweet tool for the first time was ruled by fear. "We may have just delivered a loaded gun to a four-year-old," said poca. In his interview, the developer confessed that he believes his pessimism was right.
Learn how to set up data usage in the Twitter app. Photo: Caio Bersot / TechTudo
Before the button existed, when a user wanted to republish a Tweet, he had to do it manually. That is, copy and paste the text, including the acronym RT before the comment you wish to make. With the tool, it was possible to share the content more automatically. Some time later, it evolved and allowed you to post comments along with Retweet.
Wetherell's regret involves one simple question: the practicality of content dissemination that the tool provided. By automating this process, reading became more dynamic and action became more impulsive and less reflective. "Before Retweet, Twitter was largely a place of convention. Then all hell broke loose and spread," he said, also referring to the adoption of the method by Facebook in 2009.
Wetherell's fear is well founded. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab conducted a study in March 2018 that pointed to the danger of fake news viralizing on Twitter. According to experts, the fake news spread six times faster and 70% more than the true news on the social network.
126,000 tweets were analyzed, from the creation of Twitter to 2017. MIT revealed that stories have been retweeted more than 4.5 million times and that the theme has the highest political fake news content. The conclusion was that the most viralized fake content impacted 100,000 people, while the real ones did not add up to a thousand hit profiles.
Between 2018 and early 2019, Twitter had to take action against the number of fake profiles and bots used to spread fake news. Investigations pointed out that the strategy, which became public, was allegedly used by Donald Trump voters and officials during the US presidential race. In Brazil, the same policy also emerged during the election period.
However, according to MIT, bots are not the protagonists in fake news viralization. The main publishers are the real users, who may be impacted by robots. This is because the tendency for a person to believe more in the content received by someone of trust and, thus, share without checking the truth.
Faced with so many controversies, in July 2018, a number of accounts considered suspicious were blocked. Doubtful behaviors include heavy use after months of inactivity. As a result, Twitter's most followed profiles lost on average 2% of followers.
In June 2019, Canada's Center for Innovation in International Governance released a survey of interviews conducted between December 2018 and February 2019 with 25,229 Internet users in 25 countries. The bottom line was that 86% of respondents already believed in fake news they received through social networks. Specifically on Twitter, 62% of respondents said they had read false information and news that went viral on the platform.
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