Twitter seeks external help to improve quality of conversations in the light of rising online abuse and political manipulation

Pressure has been building on Twitter — as well as Facebook and Google — to prevent malicious uses of the online platform ranging from harassment to spreading hoaxes and manipulating elections.

Image: Twitter

Image: Twitter

"We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers," Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey said in a thread of tweets 1 March.

"We aren't proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough."

A Twitter statement said the social network wants "to partner with outside experts" to get a sense of the health of the Twittersphere by measuring the impact of abuse, spam and manipulation.

The move is the latest by Twitter aimed at curbing disinformation, propaganda and provocation.

Last month, the San Francisco-based one-to-many messaging service launched a crackdown on accounts powered by software "bots" which can artificially amplify a person or cause and which have been accused of manipulating the social network during the 2016 US election.

Twitter said the move was intended to rid the service of spam-spewing automated accounts, and not aimed at people using the service according to the rules.

Since the election, Twitter and others discovered how "bots" had been used to sow political divisions and spread hoaxes.

While Twitter tactics have mostly involved removing content violating its terms of use, it has been accused of "apathy, censorship, political bias, and optimising for our business and share price instead of the concerns of society," Dorsey maintained.

"This is not who we are, or who we ever want to be," he said.

Twitter is asking outside experts to pitch proposals for ways to measure the service's health by the quality of debates, conversations, and critical thinking.

"We simply can't and don't want to do this alone," Dorsey said.

Twitter asked proposals to be submitted by 13 April, promising to fund any that are selected in a process expected to take a couple of months.

"If you want to improve something, you have to be able to measure it," Dorsey said.

Published Date: Mar 02, 2018 09:36 AM | Updated Date: Mar 02, 2018 10:49 AM