Twitter recently announced a new ‘quality filter’ that would help users clear the clog from their timelines. Twitter now wants to help remove low quality posts from the platform that was generally considered to be a social media platform. To add to this, Twitter has also been re-categorised in Google Play Store and App Store as a “news app”, clearing all doubts that it is focused on staying lesser social and more inclined toward news content.
Twitter’s tryst with safety
Twitter is taking its safety measures seriously in recent times.At the time of introducing the new safety centre a few weeks ago, Patricia Cartes, Head of Global Trust & Safety Outreach, Public Policy, said in a blog post, “In the last few months, you may have noticed some changes on Twitter designed to make your experience safer. For example, we introduced changes to our reporting mechanisms, overhauled how we review user reports and improved our block feature. In our ongoing commitment to your safety, today we’re unveiling a new Safety Centre.”
In the past few months, Twitter has been in the headlines for being very precautious with the kind of content shown on the site and at the same time struggling to curb “abusive content”. Media reports have suggested that Twitter and Buzzfeed have been in a tussle over user safety. Buzzfeed reportedly released a report that projected Twitter as a place where there is a lack of understanding of abuse and free speech along with pressures for growth. It also included allegations that the company secretly worked to “filter” the tweets directed at President Obama to exclude abusive language during a question-and-answer session last year.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Twitter is working on a keyword-based system for about a year. This could allow users to leave out offensive words and one reason that Twitter has struggled to develop such a tool is because the main aim of the product is to communicate through comments with anyone in the world.
The introduction of “Quality Filter”
In another blog post, Emil Leong (@EmilLeong), Product Manager, Twitter added “Turning it (Quality filter) on filters lower-quality content, like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience. We’ve designed the feature to learn and improve over time so what we’re rolling out is just a start, and we’ll keep you posted on updates in the future.”
With the launch of the “quality filter” the intentions of Twitter is even more evident now. However, a lot of brands and advertisers use the platform to connect to consumers and reach out to people. With the freedom of avoiding, ignoring and blocking low quality tweets a user has the power to now control what he sees and this could be the end of the road for bad content.
We spoke with Gautam Mehra, Business Head (Social Media) at iProspect Communicate2 and Siddharth Hegde, CEO, Ethinos as they shared their opinion on Twitter’s ‘Quality Filter’.
According to Mehra, “If publishers and advertisers are creating low value content that audiences might want to block rather than ignore then they shouldn't be producing content for social media. I think this initiative will be a good move overall. Google penalises advertisers and websites that product low quality content by making them pay more and show lesser of them. Facebook has always had the option to "show less" and block handles/posts, so I think this is a move in the right direction for everyone. The advertiser should get the correct feedback and tweet content rather than rely on a false sense of security by a large reach number.”
Hegde believes the quality filter helps new users step over the issues that continue to plague Twitter as much as it allows celebrities to block those who are instantly harassing to them, it’s good news. “If Twitter wants us to consume content on its platform and be able to ignore the useless noise then it's succeeding. It might go a bit too far, a bit too late since the engagement and the ability to connect with people has come down. It filters out low-quality tweets by looking at factors like whether they are automated or duplicated on the network, and also by considering the behaviour of the account of origin. This fits it with its plan laid out last year in Q4 but this is also a knee jerk reaction in trying to control the trolling that plagues Twitter,” he said.
When we contacted Twitter for their comments, a spokesperson said, “Turning the new quality filter on filters lower-quality content like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, from auser's notifications or parts of their Twitter experience. If an advertiser or publisher is not producing low quality content as above, it will not affect their interaction with users.”