Twitter has announced more changes intended to limit the amount of abuse on its network, but is it too little too late?
Twitter has announced three main changes to its platforms to challenge online abuse at some point in the “coming weeks”. The move comes as the platform continues to undergo severe criticism over harassment of users, and months of allegedly trying to find a buyer for the US social media company.
The first will rely on custom algorithms and human participation to identify users who have been previously permanently suspended, and prohibit them from creating new accounts.
The next will include safer search results. Tweets containing potentially sensitive content and those from user blocked or muted accounts will now be removed entirely from users’ feeds. In addition to that, blocked tweets and users will not be shown even as retweets.
In addition to safer search results, Twitter will also begin collapsing potentially abusive or low-quality replies to tweets; essentially recalibrating the way tweets are shown so potentially abusive or hurtful replies are covered up, again using human intervention and algorithms.
While the new tools are welcome, they hardly the stuff of revolution, and neither will they result in tweets being removed entirely from the Twitter platform. But they will allow users greater control of what they do and don’t want to see.
Failure To Launch
In November of 2016, Twitter acknowledged that users being “abusive to each other” was a growing trend. It has found itself having to address the issue of abuse following a lack of interest from potential buyers. Companies such as Google, Apple and even Disney have all reportedly shown interest in Twitter, but haven’t made any offers. Twitter and online harassment have become so intertwined that potential buyers are reportedly concerned over potential future legal liabilities.
Not that any of that is new news. Former CEO Dick Costolo admitted a long time ago in an internal memo that Twitter ‘sucked’ at dealing with abuse. Current CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted last month that these new measures are a “completely” new approach to abuse.
In its latest financial results, Twitter said it had increased its user base by 4% to 319 million active users. At the same time, it also reported its slowest financial growth since going public.