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Twitter to implement changes meant to crack down on trolls

16 May 2018

Twitter Inc on Tuesday revised its strategy for fighting abusive internet " trolls", saying it would use behavioral signals to identify harassers on the social network and then limit the visibility of their tweets.

The move is a global one, and is created to deal with behaviour that doesn't breach Twitter's usage policies, but likewise doesn't add anything either.

Twitter has finally (FI-NAL-LY) unveiled a way to silence the trolls - it's using machine learning to hide the tormentors tweets from the feeds of the tormented.

Other new behavioral signals that Twitter will use include whether the same person signs up for several accounts simultaneously or behavior that suggests a coordinated attack, such as multiple accounts disrupting a conversation with the same hashtag. 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.

The good news is that Twitter's new approach is showing promise.

"Some of these accounts and Tweets violate our policies, and, in those cases, we take action on them".

The tools ensure that while suspect trolls' tweets remain on Twitter, they will not appear in communal areas such as search or conversations in such a way as to enflame debate.

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The update is a way to "proactively address" obnoxious users that don't violate its policies, but nevertheless "negatively impact the health of the conversation", according to Twitter. However, that didn't mean it wasn't affecting the conversation on the platform.

This latest improvement is part of a new initiative, announced by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in March, that aims to measure and improve the "collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation" on the platform.

It said a "majority" of complaints made by its users concerned less than 1% of the total number of accounts on the service.

"We've focused most of our efforts on removing content against our terms, instead of building a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking", he added in a follow-up tweet.

Today we are introducing new behavior-based signals into how Tweets are organized and presented in areas like conversations and search. In early testing, Twitter said it has seen a four percent drop in abuse reports from search and an eight percent decline in abuse reports from conversations. But a Twitter spokeswoman said the company is looking at behaviors, not what content is tweeted. However, it does show how much work is being put by the company to get things right.

In the blog post, Twitter said: "This technology and our team will learn over time and will make mistakes".

Twitter to implement changes meant to crack down on trolls