After facing a barrage of criticism about the toxicity of its community, Twitter announced last month that it will try to measure and combat more actively the bad behavior, with contributions from external researchers. Now we are seeing an early and direct idea: make your rules of conduct more visible.
CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted that the company had partnered with an outside team, led by researchers Susan Benesch and J. Nathan Matias, to conduct a test as of today. "Research has shown that when institutions publish rules clearly, people are more likely to follow them," the researchers wrote in an announcement. With this in mind, researchers will test whether making users more aware of the rules will promote civil discussion on Twitter.
The exact mechanism of the test is unclear. The researchers write that "they can not describe it in detail now without jeopardizing the integrity of the results," but they say they received the approval of two university ethics committees and filed the outline of the plan with a neutral third party. They will work only with anonymous data.
Twitter announced plans to improve its platform after an avalanche of criticism, as users complained about problems such as harassment and misinformation. While, in recent weeks, the focus of contempt has shifted to Facebook, Twitter has not completely escaped: the company published a blog post defending its moderation process after counterfeiters tried to spread lies on Twitter about the shooting of this week at the YouTube headquarters.
The researchers say that the final results of the new test will be published in an academic journal. "We hope this project will provide practical knowledge about online abuse prevention, and that our process will inspire more transparent and independent evaluations of many other ideas to reduce online abuse," they write.