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Twitter Hopes To Become Friendlier, Triples Its Abuse-Handling Team

Twitter is finally ramping up its abuse control after getting hit hard by critics. Is it enough to reverse slowing growth?

Twitter Hopes To Become Friendlier, Triples Its Abuse-Handling Team
[Photo: Flickr user tetue]

Critics have backed Twitter into a corner for its lax policing of abuse–and in response, Twitter has tripled its abuse report-handling team and now fields five times as many abuse reports as before, according to The Guardian. Will this win Twitter enough goodwill to spur its lagging growth and repair its unfriendly reputation?

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After finally acknowledging back in December that user-on-user abuse is out of control on the social network, Twitter has hired more people and revamped its reporting system to reduce response times to abuse reports. In December, Twitter began allowing third parties (not just victims) to report abuse, and today, it is bringing the same streamlined reporting tools to address impersonation, self-harm, and inappropriate posting of personal information (“doxxing”), according to The Verge.

Twitter is also implementing new consequences for violators of Twitter’s rules. The site will require temporarily banned users to verify from an email address or phone number to resume Twitter activity, which will let Twitter track repeat offenders. This will ideally discourage behavior that goes against site policies, according to a blog post by Twitter VP of user services Tina Bhatnagar:

”These investments in tools and people allow us to handle more reports of abuse with greater efficiency,” says Bhatnagar. “So while we review many more reports than ever before, we’ve been able to significantly reduce the average response time to a fraction of what it was, and we see this number continuing to drop.”

Twitter is in a bit of an existential crisis: Its growth has slowed and it is a well-known breeding ground for trolls. Hostility to women is so rampant on the social network that last year Twitter partnered with the nonprofit Women, Action & the Media to crack down on it. Plus, while Facebook holds new users’ hands as they learn the ropes, Twitter newbies face a learning curve where their activity feeds are silent until they figure out who to follow. As Fast Company wrote last month, “Get it right, and Twitter becomes a glorious channel into the big news of your world—because when news breaks, whether it’s the latest Olivia Pope scandal or events in Ferguson, Missouri, it breaks on Twitter. But getting the formula right takes time.”

All this signals a need for the site to chart a new course. In a recent New York Times interview, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admitted that users don’t need to tweet to get value out of Twitter–a true statement, but one that also tacitly condones non-participation. If the sea is too choppy, watch from the shore.

[via The Guardian]

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