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

The company says it will deploy a screen saying “show more replies” in front of responses that its systems adjudicate as vexatious cynical or calculated to offend

The company says it will deploy a screen saying “show more replies” in front of responses that its systems adjudicate as vexatious cynical or calculated to offend

Twitter will begin using a wider range of signals to rank tweets in conversations and searches, hiding more replies that are likely to be abusive, the company said today.

According to Twitter's Safety account, these "signals" can be identified by an algorithm, and are tied to behavior, not the content of the tweets themselves. Additionally, people's behaviors will be taken into account to determine whether their tweet should be featured more prominently when other users search Twitter for a particular topic.

The tools ensure that while suspect trolls' tweets remain on Twitter, they will not appear in communal areas such as search or conversations in such a way as to enflame debate.

The result is that people contributing to the healthy conversation will be more visible while those that try to poison or undermine the debate with negativity will be digitally sidelined.

"Some troll-like behavior is fun, good and humorous".

Twitter said it has tested the new approach and saw reductions in abuse complaints in conversations and in search. In other words, it's high time to confirm your email address on Twitter if you haven't yet.


A company spokesperson denied that the move was an attempt to influence political discussion on the platform. "We're encouraged by the results we've seen so far, but also recognize that this is just one step on a much longer journey to improve the overall health of our service and your experience on it".

Twitter's rules already prohibit abuse, and it can suspend or block offenders once someone reports them.

"These accounts have a disproportionately large - and negative - impact on people's experience on Twitter", the company said in a statement. "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?" "Others don't but are behaving in ways that distort the conversation", the company said.

All of these factors - and more - will be taken into account when deciding how visible individual tweets should be.

The social media platform is now "integrating new behavior signals into how Tweets are presented" if an account in question hasn't confirmed its authenticity through an email address, if the same person signs up for multiple accounts all around the same time, for "accounts that repeatedly Tweet and mention accounts that don't follow them" or for actions that seem to be "a coordinated attack".

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