Twitter wants to weaken trolls

Business Insider US

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Twitter announced it’s going to greater lengths to curb harassment on its platform by tempering the visibility of trolls' tweets. Beginning this week, Twitter will begin using algorithms to identify accounts that exhibit “troll-like behaviour” — for example, repeatedly tweeting or mentioning users who don’t follow accounts back, or using many irrelevant hashtags in tweets. The social company will demote trolls' tweets in search results and public conversations, which is one of the main ways Twitter users see messages from those they don’t follow.

BI Intelligence

Clamping down on trolls' tweets highlights Twitter’s ongoing struggle with policing divisive and spammy content on its platform. Russian trolls used the platform to spread over 200,000 inflammatory tweets in an effort to influence the 2016 US presidential election, for example. And among popular news and current event websites, 66% of tweeted links are shared by suspected bots, according to Pew Research Centre.

These figures help explain why only 13% of respondents indicated they believe Twitter is the safest social platform to participate in or post on, according to exclusive data from Business Insider Intelligence’s 2017 Digital Trust Survey.

Demoting trolls’ tweets can make Twitter’s users more comfortable browsing and posting content to the platform. The change means users are less likely to encounter abusive tweets. Because tweets from trolls are buried, users quickly flipping through various conversations on their feeds may not encounter as many tweets from trolls. In testing markets, Twitter’s new approach led to 8% fewer abuse reports from conversations and a 4% drop in abuse reports from search.

And it could reduce the number of harassing tweets posted by trolls. Because of the potential of being demoted in conversations and search results, some trolls may halt posting harassing tweets. This could encourage a more positive environment on the social platform, helping Twitter retain users who might have otherwise turned to Instagram or Facebook to share content.

Twitter’s much larger social competitor Facebook has also recently made strides in removing negative content from its platform. Earlier this week, Facebook published its first report on its Community Standards enforcement efforts, in which it detailed its battle against objectionable content. The company took action against 2.5 million hate-speech-related posts in the first quarter of 2018, up from 1.6 million the last three months of 2017.

Removing this type of content is in line with Facebook’s broader goal of encouraging meaningful interactions, which could urge more users to return to its app several times per day. Currently, 51% of US adults say they use Facebook several times a day, compared with 26% who use Twitter throughout the day, per Pew Research Centre.

Trust is timely. In an era in which fake news is trending, and brands are pulling advertising from large publishers because they don’t want their messaging associated with offensive content, trust is a critical factor that brands consider when re-evaluating digital ad strategies.

Digital trust is the confidence people have in a platform’s ability to protect and promote the interests of its users. 

The Digital Trust Report, a brand new report from Business Insider Intelligence, examines consumers’ perception of major social platforms. It rates Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn on security, community, user experience, and content authenticity and shareability. These insights help brands and marketers make informed decisions about where to spend their marketing and branding dollars.

All of the information in this survey comes from our proprietary BI Insiders panel, made up of more than 15,000 specially selected and recruited Business Insider readers. This panel is designed to be a leading indicator of what’s next in digital. The panellists are business and tech savvy, they have buying power, and they’re highly engaged. The survey revealed some fascinating insights into how millennials and decision makers view today’s most popular social media platforms.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Digital trust has been shaken by a proliferation of malicious content and data breaches, which has significant consequences for brands that use these platforms.
  • The top platform won by a huge margin on most attributes. Content on this platform is more likely to be viewed as forthright and honest, which increases the persuasiveness of ads and marketing messages that appear alongside it. This also creates ideal conditions for thought leadership and branded and sponsored content to flourish.
  • The second-ranked platform was bolstered by users' confidence sharing content they find there. Users were most apt to share content they found there, which, together with its massive audience and high engagement, makes it the right platform to maximise reach.
  • The social platform that finished dead last did so because of its abusive comments section and extremely annoying ads. Still, this hasn’t dissuaded people from visiting, as evidenced by the time spent monthly and massive user base. This platform also resonates more with older generations.

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