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Twitter wants help measuring its healthy online interactions

Twitter on Thursday asked for outside help assessing the health of its world of rapid-fire commentary in the hope of finding cures for trolls, bots, echo chambers and other ills.

Pressure has been building on Twitter — as well as Facebook and Google — to prevent malicious uses of the online platform ranging from harassment to spreading hoaxes and manipulating elections.

“We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers,” Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey said in a thread of tweets Thursday.

“We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”

Twitter did not “fully predict or understand the real-world consequences” of instant, public and global conversations, Dorsey tweeted. In an effort to combat these unhealthy interactions, he said, Twitter is looking to build a framework to encourage healthy interactions. The idea to measure healthy interactions came from some conversations with team members from nonprofit research organization Cortico.

“They came up with four indicators: shared attention, shared reality, variety of opinion, and receptivity,” Dorsey tweeted.

A Twitter statement said the social network wants “to partner with outside experts” to get a sense of the health of the Twittersphere by measuring the impact of abuse, spam and manipulation.

The move is the latest by Twitter aimed at curbing disinformation, propaganda and provocation.

Last month, the San Francisco-based one-to-many messaging service launched a crackdown on accounts powered by software “bots” which can artificially amplify a person or cause and which have been accused of manipulating the social network during the 2016 US election.

Twitter’s efforts to figure out how to make the platform a safer, healthier place for everyone comes in tandem with Facebook’s efforts to ensure time well spent on the social network. Facebook’s current work entails prioritizing news from trusted publishers and focusing more on information that is relevant to where people live.

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