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Twitter's (TWTR) New Efforts to Curb Trolling on its Platform

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Twitter Inc. (TWTR - Free Report) is trying to contain the trolling menace that has plagued its platform for long now and has possibly kept potential users as well as buyers at bay.

In a blog post yesterday, management said “because Twitter happens in public and in real-time, we’ve had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct. We took a step back to reset and take a new approach, find and focus on the most critical needs, and rapidly improve. There are three areas we’re focused on, and happy to announce progress around today: controls, reporting, and enforcement.”

Twitter said that it has improvised the “mute” button, which will enable users to block tweets that contain objectionable words, phrases and conversations from their notification tabs. Secondly, Twitter users will now have a “more direct way of reporting” hateful conduct. Any Twitter user can now report any hateful conduct that they come across on the platform. Per Twitter, this “helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps to strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter.” Twitter is also “retraining” the staff to better tackle abusive behavior on the platform.

However, analysts observe that Twitter’s efforts are full of loopholes. Twitter hasn’t said a word on what it would do to the accounts that engage themselves in hateful conduct. If Twitter doesn’t take down their accounts, these will continue to exist on the platform even though the targeted accounts will not see their abusive tweets. Plus, blocking of the widely used terms like “black”, which have multiple meanings in multiple contexts is a near impossible task. 

Trolling has been a bane for Twitter. Women, minorities as well the LGBT community often have been the target of ridicule on the platform. African American actress and the star of the recent Ghostbusters remake, Leslie Jones was brutally trolled on Twitter. However, Twitter took swift action after Jones’ complaint and banned several users for lifetime.

Amid the fracas, Twitter launched a new application process whereby more users can now get a verified account. Verified accounts have a blue badge and enable users to differentiate those accounts with the ones that aren’t authentic. Also, in August this year, Twitter enabled users to get rid of “lower-quality content, like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated,” by turning on the quality filter. Quality filter, launched last year, was so far available only to Twitter’s verified users, who form a small section of its 317 million user base.

Apart from a hefty price tag and sluggish user growth, trolling was widely held responsible for shooing away interested suitors in the Twitter takeover saga that grabbed the limelight in last couple of months. Reportedly, Alphabet (GOOGL - Free Report) Salesforce (CRM - Free Report) and The Walt Disney Company (DIS - Free Report) were wary of the damage to their reputation if they acquired Twitter.

At present, Twitter has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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