Sunday, 26 May, 2019

Big Bird is watching: Twitter pecks at trolls who spoil conversations

The company says it will deploy a screen saying “show more replies” in front of responses that its systems adjudicate as vexatious cynical or calculated to offend Twitter trolls' tweets to tumble down timeline
Ginger Lawrence | 15 May, 2018, 23:06

Twitter said it would also look at how these accounts interacted with and were linked to those users who violate Twitter's rules. With these upcoming changes, tweets in conversations and search will be ranked based on a greater variety of data that takes into account things like the number of accounts registered to that user, whether that tweet prompted people to block the accounts and the IP address. Now, we're tackling issues of behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation in those areas by integrating new behavioral signals into how Tweets are presented.

It is to hide potentially trolling behaviour from users - while the material itself will remain on the platform.

According to Twitter, early tests of this newfangled system have already shown four percent fewer abuse reports from search and eight percent fewer abuse reports from conversations across the globe. This would seem an attempt to shield the company from accusations of silencing anyone of a particular political persuasion.

Twitter has made little effort to be transparent about the kind of signals it looks for when seeking to identify accounts that, in their words, "distort the conversation".

"Some troll-like behavior is fun, good and humorous".

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"Less than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse, but a lot of what's reported does not violate our rules". The hope is that by understanding what makes a Twitter conversation healthy, the company can promote methods to foster more worthwhile tweets rather than their bellicose counterparts.

"These accounts have a disproportionately large - and negative - impact on people's experience on Twitter", the company said in a statement. The challenge for us has been: how can we proactively address these disruptive behaviors that do not violate our policies but negatively impact the health of the conversation? This has been an issue for so long it's a bit ridiculous, but it all has to do with the fact that Twitter really only arranges tweets by quality inside search results and in back-and-forth conversations.

"We want to take the burden of the work off the people receiving the abuse or the harassment", Dorsey said in a briefing with reporters.

Harvey and Gasca said that there are many new signals that Twitter is taking in, most of which are not visible externally. For example, a user who signs up for multiple accounts at once, or users who repeatedly tag those who don't follow them in tweets.