Boss Jack Dorsey pushing for ‘healthier’ conversations on Twitter

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey admitted the social media platform has been misused by bad actors as he announced plans for a new scheme to monitor the health of conversations on the service.

In a series of tweets, Mr Dorsey acknowledged that some people had “taken advantage” of the service and Twitter had shown an “inability to address it fast enough”.

He revealed the company was now seeking outside experts with tools to help measure the public conversations taking place on on the site as part of plans to reduce negative content.

“We’re committing Twitter to help increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable towards progress,” Mr Dorsey wrote.

“Why? We love instant, public, global messaging and conversation. It’s what Twitter is and it’s why we‘re here. But we didn’t fully predict or understand the real-world negative consequences. We acknowledge that now, and are determined to find holistic and fair solutions.

“We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers. We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”

“While working to fix it, we’ve been accused of apathy, censorship, political bias and optimising for our business and share price instead of the concerns of society. This is not who we are, or who we ever want to be.”

The Twitter founder said the site had begun working with non-profit research firm Cortico, which has launched a study into the health of conversation on social media in the US using indicators such as the variety of opinions seen and the receptivity of users to other ideas.

“We don’t yet know if those are the right indicators of conversation health for Twitter. And we don’t yet know how best to measure them, or the best ways to help people increase individual, community, and ultimately, global public health,” Mr Dorsey said.

“What we know is we must commit to a rigorous and independently vetted set of metrics to measure the health of public conversation on Twitter. And we must commit to sharing our results publicly to benefit all who serve the public conversation.”

In a blog post alongside the chief executive’s tweets, Twitter called for experts to submit proposals to help the platform identify and measure the health of conversations taking place on the site.

Twitter, along with other internet giants, has been the subject of extensive criticism and scrutiny over a number of issues around online abuse and the spread of false information.

Company executives have been grilled by MPs and officials in the US over online extremism and abuse as well as the influence of the platforms on political events such as the EU referendum and the US presidential election.


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