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Twitter Seeks Help of Academic Scholars to Improve Healthy Conversation on its Platform

They will be studying how people use Twitter, and how exposure to a variety of perspectives and backgrounds can decrease prejudice and discrimination

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Twitter gives more freedom to report spam, fake accounts. Pixabay

In line with its efforts to curb abuse and harassment of users on its platform, Twitter has now selected two research projects that aim to develop metrics to measure the “health” of public conversation.

“An update! We’ve selected 2 partners from 230 idea submissions. Our first goal is working to measure the ‘health’ of public conversation, and that measurement be open and defined by third parties (not by us),” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet on Monday.

Earlier this year, the microblogging site said it would work to increase the collective health, openness, and civility of the dialogue on its service.

As part of these efforts, Twitter initiated a programme to suspend millions of fake accounts and in June announced the acquisition of Smyte, a San Francisco-based technology company that specialises in safety, spam, and security issues.

One of the two projects that the social network has now selected will be led by a political science professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

This project will develop two sets of metrics: how communities form around political discussions on Twitter, and the challenges that may arise as those discussions develop, Twitter said in a blog post.

The Leiden-led project will primarily focus on two key challenges: echo chambers and uncivil discourse.

Based on their past findings, echo chambers, which form when discussions involve only like-minded people and perspectives, can increase hostility and promote resentment towards those not having the same conversation.

Twitter
Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

The project’s first set of metrics will assess the extent to which people acknowledge and engage with diverse viewpoints on Twitter.

The second set of metrics will focus on incivility and intolerance in Twitter conversations. The group has found that while incivility, which breaks norms of politeness, can be problematic, it can also serve important functions in political dialog.

In contrast, intolerant discourse — such as hate speech, racism, and xenophobia — is an inherent threat to democracy.

The team will therefore work on developing algorithms that distinguish between these two behaviours, Twitter said.

The other project will be led by scholars from the University of Oxford and the University of Amsterdam.

They will be studying how people use Twitter, and how exposure to a variety of perspectives and backgrounds can decrease prejudice and discrimination.

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As part of the project, text classifiers for language commonly associated with positive sentiment, cooperative emotionality, and integrative complexity will be adapted to the structure of communication on Twitter, the microblogging site said.

“Ensuring we have thoughtful, comprehensive metrics to measure the health of public conversation on Twitter is crucial to guiding our work and making progress, and both of our partners will help us continue to think critically and inclusively so we can get this right,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead and David Gasca, Director, Product Management, Health at Twitter wrote in the blog.

“We know this is a very ambitious task, and look forward to working with these two teams, challenging ourselves to better support a thriving, healthy public conversation,” they added. (IANS)

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Instagram Experiences Highest Outrage While Twitter Reports Least in Q4

The Facebook family of social media sites outage on November 28, 2019 was one of many social outages in Q4 2019

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A combined 34,408 Facebook and Instagram users reported outages. Pixabay

Facebook-owned Instagram experienced the highest outage in the fourth quarter of 2019 with 21,682 reports at the peak on November 28, 2019, while Twitter reported the least amount of outage complaints with 15,952 reports at the peak on October 22, 2019, according to a new report on Tuesday.

The Twitter outage lasted only about a half an hour, leaving unable to tweet, retweet, like tweets or access their account at the peak of the outage, according to the findings by Downdetector, a company which tracks outages in technology platforms and social media sites. Facebook also experienced an outage on November 28 with 12,726 reports at the peak. The outage lasted about five hours and affected users across the globe.

“The Facebook family of social media sites outage on November 28, 2019 was one of many social outages in Q4 2019. The outage lasted about five hours and affected users in the US, Germany, Italy and Spain,” said the report titled “What Went Down? The Most Significant Online Service Outages in Q4 2019”.

“A combined 34,408 Facebook and Instagram users reported outages at the peak of the outage,” it added. Facebook’s Messenger app experienced a smaller outage on November 18, 2019 with 8,952 users reporting outages at the peak.

Instagram
Facebook-owned Instagram experienced the highest outage in the fourth quarter of 2019 with 21,682 reports at the peak on November 28, 2019, while Twitter reported the least amount of outage complaints with 15,952 reports at the peak on October 22, 2019. Pixabay

Snapchat, the popular multimedia messaging app was down for five and a half hours on October 14, 2019, leaving users unable to chat, send or receive photos from their friends. At the peak of the outage, 18,252 users from the US reported problems.

The outage was so significant as the hashtag #SnapchatDown was trending on Twitter at the time of the outage.In the mobile operators category, Vodafone was down for about four hours for thousands of users on October 23, 2019.

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At the peak of the outage, 21,065 users, primarily in Germany, reported having problems with their service, said the report. (IANS)