Faaez Samadi
Jul 24, 2017

New Twitter data shows clampdown on online abuse

The social-network site said new technology means the fight against trolls, one of its biggest issues, is getting better.

New Twitter data shows clampdown on online abuse

Twitter has released new figures showing that users are receiving “significantly less abuse” on its platform following new measures introduced to handle its biggest problem.

In a blog post, Twitter said thanks to a range of product updates, and the creation of its trust and safety council, the company is now tackling 10 times as many abusive accounts as it was this time last year.

In just the last four months, Twitter said it has removed twice the number of accounts owned by users who create new accounts after having their old abusive accounts suspended. This issue is one of the key criticisms levelled at Twitter regarding the safety of its users from so-called ‘trolls’.

New techniques against abuse include limiting account functionality and suspension. Twitter said it is communicating more with accounts that it limits for a period of time, explaining why they have been partially blocked.

Accounts that are functionally limited for a period create 25 percent fewer abuse reports, and around 65 percent of these accounts are in this limitation period just once.

Tellingly, Twitter said it suspends or limits “thousands more abusive accounts each day”, illustrating the scale of the problem despite the brand now taking more action than before.

Finally, the post said Twitter has seen success through its new products, such as allowing users to mute keywords and stop notifications from people outside their network who mention them, a common way for abusers to target people. The platform is seeing 40 percent fewer blocks in this scenario.

Twitter admits that these numbers may vary, but Ed Ho, general manager of consumer product and engineering, said the important thing is that “every person now has more control of what they see and experience on Twitter”.

Emma Richards, vice president and APAC regional technology lead at WE Communications, said while Twitter's developments are clearly a "step in the right direction", there may be financial as well as social factors driving its actions. 

"Twitter still lags behind rivals Facebook and Instagram, and investors have shown their concern," she told Campaign Asia-Pacific. "The new safety measures saw Twitter’s stock rise 2 percent, and while I wholeheartedly believe harassment online needs to be addressed, you could question whether this is a knee-jerk reaction to the company’s financial health and the necessity to encourage further growth."

Richards added that there still remains a lot of work to do. "If Twitter is seriously committed to creating a safe place for free expression, why stop at just their platform…why not use its influence and size to join other online communities to educate and drive policies that reduce trolling across the internet, for everyone’s benefit?"

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