Twitter gives update on new tools employed to fight abusive content on the platform; 38% of abusive tweets flagged

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Twitter gave a status update on Tuesday on its plans to target online harassment, which, according to the company, appears to be working. The social media platform has made “meaningful progress” in achieving its goal of ridding itself of abusive content, wrote Twitter Vice President Donald Hicks. More abusive accounts are getting suspended compared to last year, abusive tweets are automatically being flagged for the first time and repeat offenders are restricted from opening new accounts.

Twitter claims that the new tool that can automatically flag content that breaches the company’s policies surface 38 percent of abusive tweets for review. The social media did not disclose the exact number of tweets or whether they were larger in amount compared to last year. This is the first attempt of Twitter removing abusive tweets on its own rather than relying on its users to report and acknowledges that the tool is still in its early stages. Hicks wrote that the same tool that the company uses to counter spam, platform manipulation, and other rule-breaking is being tested on abuse.

“This time last year, zero percent of potentially abusive content was flagged to our teams for review proactively. Today, by using technology, 38 percent of abusive content that’s enforced is surfaced proactively for human review instead of relying on reports from people using Twitter. This encompasses a number of policies, such as abusive behavior, hateful conduct, encouraging self-harm and threats, including those that may be violent,” wrote Hicks.

Twitter has also gotten a hold on the troll tactic of opening a new account following the suspension of a previous account. The company reported that a total of 100,000 accounts were suspended between January and March 2019, after creating a new account, which shows a 45 percent increase from the same period last year. Twitter also seemingly is responding to abusive accounts at a faster pace. Three times more abusive accounts were suspended within 24 hours this year than the same period in 2018, the platform reported.

There has also been a troll tactic of doxxing users by revealing their private information on Twitter. According to Twitter, 2.5 times as much private information has been removed from the platform after it allowed users to automatically report tweets for sharing personal information. Revealing private information on Twitter is a breach of the social media platform’s policies, however, Twitter has been known to turning a blind eye to doxxing in the past.

The new tools unveiled by Twitter are promising at best, however, they still don’t give the user any idea about the amount of abuse that is thriving on the platform. No matter how much aggressive enforcement and reportings come into effect, it still does not matter if users do not know how many abusive trolls are slipping through the cracks.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised last year that the platform’s objective is to “increase the health of public conversation”, and seemingly the platform seems to be focusing on making previously unchecked abuse and harassment a top priority. Twitter has unveiled features like in-app appeals for suspensions, limits on daily follow, and new reporting tools to flag bots. As a part of the initiative, users can expect more changes.



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