TWITTER HAS TWEAKED its algorithm in a bid to tackle harassment on its online platform, with the change expected to have a big impact on the social media site.
"It's shaping up to be one of the highest-impact things that we've done," Jack Dorsey, Twitter's chief executive told The Guardian. "The spirit of the thing is that we want to take the burden off the person receiving abuse or mob-like behaviour."
Twitter will do this by using smart tech and human review processes to identify new behavioural signals in how tweets are presented and received to sniff out indicators of harassment so it can better tackle problematic behaviour.
For example, if a person tweets at multiple other Twitter accounts with the same post that results in that user being blocked or muted by the recipients, Twitter will have a good idea that it could be abusive.
On the flip side, if some of the recipients hit the 'heart' button on the tweet, then Twitter will consider it to be a welcomed interaction and thus won't spring into action to purge it.
Other indicators, such as whether a user has a confirmed email address or has opened up multiple accounts at simultaneously, will also have a part to play in tackling harassment.
The new algorithm will result in some tweets being pushed down search results, but potentially abusive tweets won't be purged providing they don't breach Twitter's tweeting rules.
"A lot of our past action has been content-based, and we are shifting more and more to conduct," Dorsey noted.
The overall idea behind the change is to prompt more healthy conversations on Twitter without opening the floodgates to harassment or being too heavy-handed with tweets that many people might not agree with but are not technically against Twitter's rules.
Given Twitter has come under pressure to tackle harassment and abuse on its platform, the algorithm change could be a welcome one. At the same time, some might see it as merely a nod towards tackling harassment rather than a proper effort. For the moment, we'll just have to wait and see the result. µ
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