Twitter announces global change to algorithm in effort to tackle harassment

Twitter announces global change to algorithm in effort to tackle harassment

The company also found that less than 1% of Twitter accounts made up the majority of abuse reports and that numerous reported tweets did not actually violate the company's rules, despite "detract [ing] from the overall experience" for most users. When Twitter considers an account to be engaged in "trolling" bad behavior, it will display their tweets less and hide them in conversations. Criticism of its approach has led to the implementation of new rules meant to reduce hate speech, and more rules were announced in February targeted specifically to people encouraging self-harm.

Twitter's troll problem has not improved, despite various measures taken by the company. "What we're talking about today are troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search", wrote David Gasca, Twitter's product manager for health.

Twitter says it is taking action against "trolls" that "distort and detract from the public conversation", by making their tweets less visible.

Currently, Twitter uses policies, human reviewers and machine learning to decide how tweets are organized and presented in conversations and search.

Early tests conducted, according to Twitter was very successful as it showed a reduction in the number of abuse reports filed by users.

Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said Twitter now would try to find problematic accounts by examining behaviour such as how frequently people tweet about accounts that do not follow them or whether they have confirmed their email address.


The results have been a 4pc decrease in abuse reports from search and an 8pc drop in abuse reports from conversations as people see fewer tweets that will disturb their experiences on the platform.

In March, Twitter sought proposals from academics and others to help gauge the "health of public conversations".

Gasca and Harvey don't say whether the proclaimed troll tweets would be demoted for everyone, or just for specific users they've been known to target.

However, the company acknowledged there was more work to do, and warned there would be "false positives" and missed incidents as the technology bedded in.

Twitter's new approach is still pretty much work in progress, and could take some time to get used to. But if an account tweets at multiple other accounts with the same message, and some of them reply or hit the "heart" button, Twitter will assess the interactions as welcome.

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