Did Twitter Discover a Low-Cost Approach to Platform Policing?


May. 28 2018, Updated 7:31 a.m. ET

Algorithm update to help curb abuse

Twitter (TWTR) recently launched a renewed effort to make its social media platform safer by addressing rampant problems such as trolling, harassment, and abuse, which are some of the reasons the company has struggled to grow its user base.

To curb the unwelcome activities that could be causing people to avoid its platform or limit their usage of its social media services, Twitter announced that it was updating its algorithm to suppress the reach and circulation of potentially poisonous tweets. The update would result in offensive tweets being buried in search results to reduce their negative impact.

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New approach isn’t labor-intensive

With the algorithm update, Twitter will utilize behavioral signals, such as how people react to messages, to assess whether messages are hurting or contributing positively to conversations of its platform. The company is optimistic that the new approach will significantly improve the user experience.

Twitter’s new platform policing approach isn’t labor-intensive in that the company doesn’t have to hire more moderators to make it work. In contrast, Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) have talked about hiring armies of content moderators as part of their efforts to curb the spread of offensive or misleading posts on their platforms.

Twitter’s expenses were flat in the latest quarter

A platform-policing approach that isn’t labor-intensive could help Twitter to better control its costs. Twitter’s expenses were flat YoY (year-over-year) at $590 million in the first quarter. Expenses rose 12% YoY at Yelp (YELP) and 41.5% YoY at Amazon (AMZN) in the same period.


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