Technology

Wednesday Buzz: Twitter Continues to Combat Harassment

By / Mar 1, 2017 (Reuters file photo)

Twitter continues the fight against online abuse by launching new anti-harassment tools. Also: One news outlet improves the quality of its online discussions by using a quiz.

Twitter is taking the fight directly to trolls and accounts that engage in abusive behavior.

“This week we’re introducing additional updates that leverage our technology to reduce abusive content, give you more tools to control your experience, and communicate more clearly about actions we take,” Ed Ho, Twitter’s vice president of engineering, explains in a blog post.

In recent months, Twitter has rolled out other features to make the platform safer, including expanding its mute function, boosting its reporting mechanisms, and collapsing abusive tweets in feeds. But some critics say that while those features may be helpful, they pass off too much responsibility to the user to police abuse.

These newly announced features, on the other hand, put Twitter on the front lines in the battle against abuse. The company will employ algorithms to flag abusive accounts, even ones that haven’t been reported; will allow users to block “eggs” or accounts without verification; and will boost its mute functionality.

“Twitter has been proceeding carefully and thoughtfully in thinking through and rolling out tools designed to help harassment victims,” explained Danielle Citron, a University of Maryland law professor and Twitter advisor, in comments to USA Today.

Quizzing Commenters

Speaking of preventing bad behavior online, a Norwegian news site is experimenting with an unusual new way to moderate comments.

NiemanLab reports that NRKbeta, the technology vertical of the NRK news site, requires readers to take a quiz about the article that they (supposedly) read before they’re allowed to comment. The goal: to prevent inaccurate rants and promote constructive conversation.

“We thought we should do our part to try and make sure that people are on the same page before they comment,” NRKbeta journalist Ståle Grut explained to NiemanLab. “If everyone can agree that this is what the article says, then they have a much better basis for commenting on it.”

Love trumps like—at least on Facebook. The Drum reports that the social media giant will give more weight to newsfeed posts that receive reactions other than a simple “like.”

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Raegan Johnson

Raegan Johnson is a contributor to Associations Now. More »

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