Twitter is finally doing something about trolls -- using 'behavioral signals'

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CHINA-INTERNET-US-TWITTER

Social media site Twitter has announced changes in its attempt to address trolling.

The company now uses a mixture of machine learning, human review processes and policies to determine how tweets are organised in conversations and search.

They said that while less than 1pc of Twitter accounts have been reported for abuse, others have not because they have not violated policy per se, but have still have managed to have a negative impact on people's experiences of Twitter.

Twitter is turning to a new tactic in the company's long-running battle against internet trolls: hiding their posts from view. "Some troll-like behaviour is fun, good and humorous". Twitter says accounts that behave inappropriately will be made "less visible" on the platform, especially on search and in public conversations, where the company sees the most abuse.

An updated algorithm will push tweets from these accounts further down the search results and replies, but won't delete them from the platform as they don't necessarily violate the rules.

Early testing in markets around the world showed a 4 percent drop in abuse reports from search and 8 percent fewer abuse reports within conversations.

"There are many new signals we're taking in, most of which are not visible externally", said Del Harvey, vice president of trust and safety, and David Gasca, director of product management, health, in a blog post titled "Serving Healthy Conversation". On one hand it's been upsetting to users who have been personally targeted, on the other hand it's just taken away the utility of poring through the conversations that Twitter enables in the first place. For example, a user who signs up for multiple accounts at once, or users who repeatedly tag those who don't follow them in tweets.

For Twitter, this means utilizing an amalgamation of code-based rules, human reviews, and machine learning-which will all help organize and present content to the user in a purportedly healthier way, in areas such as search and conversation.

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 is only one part of our work to improve the health of the conversation and to make everyone's Twitter experience better".

"This technology and our team will learn over time and will make mistakes", the post said. There will be false positives and things that we miss; our goal is to learn fast and make our processes and tools smarter. You'll have to click the "show more Tweets" button to see them. "We are making progress as we go", Dorsey said.

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