Twitter's new policy on trolls is 'out of sight, out of mind'

The move is part of Twitter's plan to improve the health of discussion on the platform

The move is part of Twitter's plan to improve the health of discussion on the platform

It announced today that it will stop troll tweets from popping up at the top of your conversations and searches using "new behavioral signals" to pinpoint the offensive messages.

The execs said more than 50 percent of tweets reported for abuse stem from less than 1 percent of active accounts. While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large - and negative - impact on people's experience on Twitter. "The challenge for us has been how can we proactively address these disruptive behaviours that do not violate our policies but negatively impact the health of the conversation?" All of these factors - and more - will be taken into account when deciding how visible individual tweets should be.

Twitter says its testing has shown positive results, with a 4% drop off in reported abuse from search and 8% fewer reports of abuse from within conversations. The company also found that less than 1% of Twitter accounts made up the majority of abuse reports and that numerous reported tweets did not actually violate the company's rules, despite "detract [ing] from the overall experience" for most users.

This has been an issue for so long it's a bit ridiculous, but it all has to do with the fact that Twitter really only arranges tweets by quality inside search results and in back-and-forth conversations.

Among other suspicious behavior, the company is looking out for accounts that don't confirm their email addresses, along with instances of multiple accounts being created simultaneously.

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"This is only one part of our work to improve the health of the conversation and to make everyone's Twitter experience better". According to an announcement on its blog, Twitter will start using "new behavioral signals" to determine which users "distort and detract from the public conversation", and then use that determination to decide who gets to show up in certain searches and conversations, without having to wait for abuse reports.

Still, Twitter's discourse is often colored by such tweets, and banning the people involved seems like a good way to open the platform to cries of censorship (well, more open than it is already).

Gasca and Harvey don't say whether the proclaimed troll tweets would be demoted for everyone, or just for specific users they've been known to target.

"This technology and our team will learn over time and will make mistakes", the post said. Our goal is to learn fast and make our processes and tools smarter.

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