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Twitter’s leaders want to ensure the social network is a place of positive, productive conversation, rather than a cesspool of spam and trolls. To that end, Twitter announced that it is beginning a program to measure the health of its platform.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the endeavor in a series of tweets followed by a company blog post.
We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress.
— jack (@jack) March 1, 2018
In another tweet, Dorsey said that the company isn’t “proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”
We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers. We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.
— jack (@jack) March 1, 2018
“By measuring our contribution to the overall health of the public conversation, we believe we can more holistically approach and measure our impact on the world for years to come,” the company wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “Twitter’s health will be built and measured by how we help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking; conversely, abuse, spam, and manipulation will detract from it.”
To properly evaluate its health, the company is requesting that experts and institutions propose what metrics Twitter should include. Those interested in sharing their views—including what metrics Twitter should capture, and what methodology it should use to capture them—can apply via its website. It’s taking submissions through April 13 and hopes that a successful project will result in peer-reviewed, publicly available research articles, and open source software.
Twitter has dealt with a lot of criticism of its platform in recent months—and for good reason. Fake accounts have spread misleading “news” before, during, and since the 2016 election; harassment continues to be a prevalent issue on the social network; and most recently, in the wake of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, survivors have had to contend with targeted abuse and conspiracy theories.
It’s about time that Twitter take a step back and evaluate how well it’s handling these types of situations. However, you’d think the company would have tried to do so long before now.
H/T the Verge
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.