Monday, 29 May, 2017

Twitter timeout: Newest abuse-fighting tool limits users' reach

Theresa Hayes | 17 February, 2017, 01:26

How this will affect Twitter's user growth remains to be seen, but investors have been vocal in their concerns for the platform's future, with one market analyst recently describing it as being in the midst of an "identity crisis".

Twitter is temporarily decreasing the reach of tweets from users it believes are engaging in abusive behavior via a new protocol that began rolling out last week. The block on the account only lasts for a set period of time, placing them in a kind of penalty box.

"Conversations are core to Twitter, but if we detect behavior that may violate the Twitter Rules or inhibit other people's ability to express themselves freely, we may temporarily limit certain account features". Limiting the reach of potentially abusive content creates a safer environment and stronger Twitter community.

Several Twitter users have expressed their frustration at receiving the "time-outs" from the social media network.

The company has started temporarily restricting the access of accounts it determines to be abusive, a Twitter spokesperson told Business Insider. The company has boasted about being the "free-speech wing of the free-speech party" and talked about how the service helped free Egypt during the Arab Spring. This suggest that the company may be able to quickly detect certain patterns of abuse - for example users who prompt their followers to target a certain person - and then respond appropriately.

Within hours, Twitter announced that it had made a mistake, and that the notification change would be reversed. And by limiting the amount of time spent being throttled, Twitter shows users that the restriction isn't permanent. People experiencing abuse online argued that this was a bad solution since it prevented people from seeing if they were being added to a list of possible harassment targets.