Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) has announced that it is testing a simple strategy aimed at curbing widespread bullying plus abusive comments on its platform. According to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the company is trying the new tactic to get rid of abuse which has been affecting Twitter users for several years despite repeated promises that it will clean up the vise.
The new study will be led by external researchers and will include the Dangerous Speech Project, a research company which examines how public speech leads to bad and violent behaviors. In a post which announced the new test, J. Nathan Matias and Susan Benesch, who are academic researchers that will help in conducting the new study said the new strategy may involve showing Twitter users some rules about good behavior which could lead to reduction in cases of harassment as well as cases of vile comments. In a note, the pair said that social norms are powerful factors which largely influence what people do and that which they don’t do.
The two gave an example of “early evidence” and outside research from a previous research which was conducted by Matias on Internet messaging board Reddit, which involved showing users the forum rules for commenting. Some of these rules included warnings like no, offensive, abusive or spam comments and no personal anecdotes.
The Reddit study was conducted for a period of 29 days during which Matias in conjunction with Reddit moderators examined a total of 2,214 conversations on the science forum. They established that by displaying the rules, users, were 7.3% “more likely to adhere to the rules.
In the Reddit study, Matias concedes that there are stills several unknown factors. For instance, he says it is not clear if the same findings are true with other forums like video games and politics which are hotbeds of controversial comments. Nevertheless, Twitter is trying out something very similar to the study on Reddit. The researchers indicated that they are announcing the study before it commences so as to increase the level of transparency. They however didn’t divulge the details of the study because that could jeopardize the integrity of the results.