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Twitter Trial New Approach To Address Online Abuse

In addition to addressing the problem of abusive users on their platform, Twitter have also recently introduced new policies to tackle accounts that promote self-harm and suicide - great work Twitter!

Twitter have announced a new incentive as part of their ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of abuse and toxicity on the platform. This comes in the wake of a number of changes that Twitter have introduced this year, including updates to their reporting system and enhanced user tools to filter out low-quality content and abusive accounts.

For their latest incentive, Twitter have teamed up with the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and J. Nathan Matias, a post-doc research associate at Princeton University to study abusive behaviors. The team of researchers will be focusing on how effective the promotion of Twitter’s rules towards abuse will be in reducing the number of users breaking these rules.

Twitter, who have been under fire from authorities to do more to stop abuse and harassment on the platform, spoke of their work with the research team in a statement to the media.

“We’re collaborating with a group of academic researchers and scholars on an initiative to remind people of the Twitter Rules, to evaluate whether increased awareness of our policies results in improved behavior and more respect on Twitter.”

Twitter Spokesperson

This is a simple concept that has seen success among other high profile online communities including Reddit, and the popular Riot Games title, League of Legends. The idea is that by making the rules of community conduct more visible and accessible to people, this increases user awareness and reduces the number of violations. The research team spoke of evidence from similar studies that revealed positive results and are keen to see how this process works on Twitter.

“Social norms, which are people’s beliefs about what institutions and other people consider acceptable behavior, powerfully influence what people do and don’t do. Research has shown that when institutions publish rules clearly, people are more likely to follow them. In an experiment starting today, Twitter is publicizing its rules, to test whether this improves civility.”

Susan Benesch, Associate Professor, Berkman Klein Center

The study will run for 60 days, with a 90 day’s review period. Researchers hope that the collaboration will produce practical knowledge on preventing online abuse as well as encouraging more independent evaluations to be carried out.

If you are affected by abuse or harassment online, we can help! Visit our Cyberbullying and Online Abuse Help Center for information and practical tips or use our Global Support Service to access trained support advisors – wherever you are in the world! For further information about Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the suggestions below.

What are your thoughts about the work Twitter is doing to address abuse on its platform? Tweet us @CybersmileHQ or contact us and share your views!