Do you want to know what does a “healthy” social media network look like in 2018? For Twitter, it includes making “disruptive” tweets that “distort the conversation” less visible. Starting from today, The micro-blogging platform announced it will roll out a tweak to its algorithm that will obscure tweets categorised in this way, so that they are not immediately seen by users.
According to Del Harvey, Twitter VP of Trust & Safety, a small subset of tweets have an outsize impact on the “health” of the Twitter platform.
“Not necessarily in a way that violates our rules, but in a way that really detracts from the conversation,” she said. The new feature is particularly aimed at search results and conversations — spaces it deems to be “communal” — Twitter will hide or push down “disruptive” tweets without waiting for them to be reported. The tweets will not be deleted if they don’t violate the site’s term of use.
According to Twitter, its filter will rely on patterns of behaviour to decide whether a tweet is to be obscured. These include whether an account has confirmed its email address, whether one person has created multiple accounts simultaneously, or whether an account repeatedly tweets and mentions accounts that don’t follow them.
Twitter claims that early testing of this new approach has led to a “4% drop in abuse reports from search and 8% fewer abuse reports from conversations.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that the tweets from suspected trolls will be gone entirely. Because the content from users who are behaving badly may not necessarily violate Twitter’s policies, it will stay on Twitter, and you’ll still be able to see them by clicking on “Show more replies” or opting to see everything in search. Twitter also admitted that this is just one of several approaches intended to improve people’s experiences on the platform, and that there will be “mistakes,” “false positives,” and “things we miss.”
This latest improvement is part of a new initiative, announced by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a tweet in March, that aims to measure and improve the “collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation” on the platform. “We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers,”
Dorsey added in a tweet in March. “We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”
“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 also added in a follow-up tweet. “This is the approach we now need.”
The changes, came out two months after Twitter issued a request for proposals from researchers and academics to help the company measure the health of public conversations on the site and it will roll out to all users globally this week.