Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Twitter moves against 'troll' behaviour that 'distorts and detracts' from conversation

Twitter moves against 'troll' behaviour that 'distorts and detracts' from conversation

Twitter already ranks tweets in search and in conversations.

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.

"We're also looking at how accounts are connected to those that violate our rules, and how they interact with each other", they explain. In 2015, then CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged that the company "sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls".

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Twitter has a "secret conversation" feature built into its app, but it has not yet been launched. Thousands of behavioral cues-such as heavily tweeting at accounts you don't even follow-will provide the service with more informed data so that it can protect healthy conversation from unwelcome nuisances. Twitter says accounts that behave inappropriately will be made "less visible" on the platform, especially on search and in public conversations, where the company sees the most abuse. In these cases, the company said, it may hide user comments from a visible Twitter conversation.

Social media platforms have long struggled to police acceptable content and behavior on their sites, but external pressure on the companies increased significantly following the revelation that a Russian influence operation used the platforms in coordinated campaigns around the 2016 USA election. "Because this content doesn't violate our policies, it will remain on Twitter, and will be available if you click on "Show more replies" or choose to see everything in your search setting". "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.

"While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large - and negative - impact on people's experience on Twitter", they said.

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Our work is far from done.

The company has been testing the new methods in markets around the world, and claimed it had seen abuse reports fall as a result, with a 4 per cent drop in reports from searches and an 8 per cent decline in reports from conversations. Our goal is to learn fast and make our processes and tools smarter.

In March, Twitter sought proposals from academics and others to help gauge the "health of public conversations". "We are making progress as we go", Dorsey said.

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