So­cial me­dia giants fight trolls

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

TWIT­TER on Novem­ber 15 be­gan rolling out a new weapon in the fight against ha­rass­ment by “trolls” whose of­ten anony­mous vit­riol can make the mes­sag­ing ser­vice an un­wel­com­ing place.

The move comes as on­line so­cial net­works strug­gle to bal­ance free speech with in­tim­i­da­tion and ag­gres­sion that make many fear­ful of speak­ing freely.

“The amount of abuse, bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment we’ve seen across the in­ter­net has risen sharply over the past few years,” Twit­ter said in a state­ment.

“These be­hav­iours in­hibit peo­ple from par­tic­i­pat­ing on Twit­ter, or any­where.”

Twit­ter is ex­pand­ing a “mute” fea­ture that en­ables users to block ac­counts send­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ate mes­sages.

Twit­ter will let users elim­i­nate, or mute, no­ti­fi­ca­tions based on key­words, phrases or en­tire con­ver­sa­tions they are not in­ter­ested in see­ing, ac­cord­ing to the San Fran­cisco-based com­pany.

“This is a fea­ture we’ve heard many of you ask for, and we’re go­ing to keep lis­ten­ing to make it bet­ter and more com­pre­hen­sive over time,” it said.

Twit­ter pol­icy al­ready pro­hibits hate spewed based on race, gen­der, re­li­gion, dis­abil­ity or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Mea­sures an­nounced in­cluded pro­vid­ing a more di­rect way for peo­ple to re­port abu­sive be­hav­iour, even if they are a wit­ness to it and not the target.

“This will im­prove our abil­ity to process these re­ports, which helps re­duce the bur­den on the per­son ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the abuse, and helps to strengthen a cul­ture of col­lec­tive sup­port on Twit­ter,” the ser­vice said.

Twit­ter sup­port staff have been re­trained on its poli­cies, in­clud­ing ses­sions to help un­der­stand com­ments in cul­tural and his­toric con­text, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

In­ter­nal pro­cesses have been tuned to deal more ef­fec­tively with re­ports of abu­sive be­hav­iour, with a goal of be­ing faster and more trans­par­ent in han­dling sit­u­a­tions, Twit­ter said.

Rea­son­ing for the move in­cluded mak­ing Twit­ter a more wel­com­ing plat­form, ide­ally ramp­ing up the num­ber of users and the amount of time they spend en­gaged on the plat­form.

“Abu­sive con­duct re­moves the chance to see and share all per­spec­tives around an is­sue, which we be­lieve is crit­i­cal to mov­ing us all for­ward,” Twit­ter said.

“In the worst cases, this type of con­duct threat­ens hu­man dig­nity, which we should all stand to­gether to pro­tect.”

The moves come af­ter a se­ries of com­plaints and high-pro­file in­stances of abuse on the so­cial net­work.

In July, movie star Les­lie Jones briefly quit Twit­ter af­ter what she said was a stream of abuse fu­elled by com­ments from an ed­i­tor at the con­ser­va­tive news site Bre­it­bart.

The chal­lenge of mak­ing Twit­ter a safe on­line venue for open and in­sight­ful dis­course is be­lieved to be among the rea­sons the com­pany failed to find a suitor when it courted po­ten­tial buy­ers this year.

Twit­ter said that it has seen a grow­ing trend in peo­ple tak­ing ad­van­tage of the open­ness of the ser­vice to abuse oth­ers.

“We don’t ex­pect these an­nounce­ments to sud­denly re­move abu­sive con­duct from Twit­ter,” its state­ment said.

“In­stead we com­mit to rapidly im­prov­ing Twit­ter based on ev­ery­thing we ob­serve and learn.”

Twit­ter’s ex­panded mute fea­ture ap­peared sim­i­lar to a tool that Face­book-owned In­sta­gram added in Septem­ber.

The pop­u­lar photo and videoshar­ing ser­vice be­gan let­ting users tackle on­line abuse by cre­at­ing lists of words that would au­to­mat­i­cally make com­ments hidden from sight.

“All dif­fer­ent types of peo­ple – from di­verse back­grounds, races, gen­ders, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tions, abil­i­ties and more – call In­sta­gram home, but some­times the com­ments on their posts can be un­kind,” In­sta­gram co-founder and chief executive Kevin Sys­trom said in a blog post at the time.

“To em­power each in­di­vid­ual, we need to pro­mote a cul­ture where ev­ery­one feels safe to be them­selves without crit­i­cism or ha­rass­ment.”

In­sta­gram also lets users swipe to delete com­ments, re­port abu­sive posted re­marks and even have ac­counts blocked.

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