The 10 recommendations of Reporters Without Borders to the new CEO of Twitter to combat disinformation

File photo of Linda Yaccarino, the former director of publicity for NBCUniversal who was chosen by Elon Musk to become the next head of Twitter

the NGO Reporters Without Borders asked the US executive appointed this Friday as the new CEO of Twitter, Linda Yaccarino, to combat misinformation on this social network and made ten “recommendations” to try to improve the operation of the platform in favor of journalism.

The organization defending the freedom of the press considered that Twitter “is going through a bad time” since it was bought by the businessman Elon Musk and declared that “repairing the damage caused by the billionaire” depends on Yaccarino.

Elon Musk has finally handed over his role as CEO of Twitter to Linda Yaccarino, former director of advertising and alliances at NBCUniversal. In six weeks, this woman will take the reins of the social network, under the close supervision of the billionaire, who will continue to be CEO of the company, as well as chief technology officer,” Reporters Without Borders warned in a statement released this Friday. “The owner of the social network -which will therefore be the subordinate and, at the same time, the patron of the new head of Twitter- has commissioned her to ‘transform the platform into X, the application for everything'”, he pointed out.

And Vincent Berthier, head of the NGO’s technology section, added: “We will judge Linda Yaccarino on her ability to stand up to the billionaire and put out the fire he started. It is possible to reform Twitter and turn it into a beneficial platform for access to information, but it probably won’t happen without a showdown with the capricious businessman who bought it.”

At the end of the statement, Reporters Without Borders included their ten recommendations to Yaccarino to “repair” Twitter:

1. Restore the real certification of the accounts

This action protects the media from identity theft, a very effective technique to damage their reputation and quickly spread false information. It is imperative that the media be certified under a regime that protects their identity, both for their own good and that of the public. The current system has nothing to do with that protection: it is a list of clients.

2. Invest in the fight against misinformation

Elon Musk’s staff cuts have left teams fighting disinformation stretched thin. Those troops must be replaced urgently, especially considering that the Twitter Blue service is popular among disinformation accounts.

File photo of Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter since October 2022 (REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst)
File photo of Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter since October 2022 (REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst) (JONATHAN ERNST /)

3. Promote reliable information

By promoting media outlets certified by the JTI (Journalism Trust Initiative) label in their recommendation algorithms. This norm, initiated by Reporters Without Borders, identifies the media that produce information in accordance with the technical and ethical norms of journalism.

4. Reconnect with the media

The Twitter press office should stop insulting the media, which has the right to be informed about Twitter policy. The journalists’ questions are legitimate and Twitter should simply agree to answer them.

5. Set clear rules

Twitter’s moderation criteria and rules need to be understandable and applied intelligently, not as a result of top-tier coups. These standards should be developed with the participation of interested parties.

6. Make moderation transparent

Users must be able to challenge the moderation decisions of the social network. The process by which moderation is carried out must be clear and explained at all times.

7. Conclude Twitter’s open source process with the return of free APIs to researchers

The release of the code feed of Twitter recommendations is a first step. Without access to the data to check how the algorithms work, it is impossible to accurately audit how they distribute the information.

Elon Musk was interviewed by Linda Yaccarino on April 18, 2023 at an event before hundreds of advertisers in Miami (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Elon Musk was interviewed by Linda Yaccarino on April 18, 2023 at an event before hundreds of advertisers in Miami (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell/)

8. Give influencers a status

A user account should be considered highly influential if it meets one of the following conditions: it has at least 50,000 subscribers, it belongs to a person with political responsibilities or to another public figure that has been certified by the platforms. These influencers should be subject to specific obligations.

9. Transparency of influencers

Elon Musk’s Twitter now prioritizes those who can pay, who usually also have something to sell. Platform influencers must be transparent about their political affiliations and business deals.

10. Linking influencers to a code of conduct

Influencers must follow a strict code of conduct established by Twitter to ensure, among other things, that they do not spread misinformation. In case of violation, they will face sanctions.

Keep reading:

Linda Yaccarino is the new CEO of Twitter, she will replace Elon Musk

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey criticized Elon Musk’s management as company director

Reporters Without Borders warned about the progress of disinformation in its 2023 balance sheet on press freedom

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