Twitter Moves to Tackle Trolls with Marked Accounts

March 13, 2017 - 2 minutes read

Twitter and trolls are a love story that goes back as far as Twitter itself. Even for diehard users, dealing with abuse and offensive content on the platform has been a turnoff, and it’s something that Twitter has struggled to fix even as competitors like Facebook and Instagram take hardline approaches that seem to please new users. Last week Twitter took their own “hardline” measures, launching a feature that marks accounts with offensive keywords as “sensitive.” The question for iPhone app developers is, how is it working out from a UX perspective? Not too well, according to pundits at the Verge, and hundreds of users venting their frustration in 140-character increments.

In practice, Twitter’s San Francisco app development team the “sensitive” account feature acts as a gatekeeper to flagged accounts. Rather than hiding content and tweets, it simply warns users with an overlay before they view a marked profile. This is an interesting approach, particularly since Twitter’s app developer-heavy userbase has repeatedly offered more specific fixes. For women, the platform has become almost unusable, forcing many users to abandon it altogether for safer social media pastures.

One thing that’s unclear about the new feature is how exactly accounts are marked as “sensitive.” In an article on The Verge, users reported being flagged for seemingly unoffensive content. Apparently, it’s difficult for bots or Amazon-Turk-type workers to pick out the difference between sarcasm and sincerity, which creates obvious problems for a platform drenched heavily in irony like Twitter. Seeing how Twitter handles this will be interesting to watch for app developers keen to reduce abusive accounts on their own platform.

In the era of “fake news,” controlling abuse and fraud on social media has never had bigger repercussions.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,