Twitter “Collapses Low-Quality Tweets,” Collapses Stock Value?

Twitter’s ongoing fight against online abuse was turned up a notch recently when they introduced a new set of features giving users more options to report harassment on the social media site. These updates, though, have incited a few harsh words from critics. Some are even saying twitter “trashed the user experience.”

Earlier this month, Twitter announced in a blog post an update to their safety features, saying they “won’t tolerate” abuse and harassment. The changes include:

  • better identification of permanently suspended users to stop from abusive account creation;
  • a safe search feature that hides tweets possibly containing sensitive content;
  • and “blocking potentially abusive or low-quality tweets.”

It seems that Twitter is also implementing some less-publicized crackdowns, like temporary account suspension for offensive language (WARNING: some language in the linked article is, well, offensive).

These updates, though, have some Twitter users frustrated. In a post on Heat Street, William Hicks outlined his distaste with the changes. And it appears he’s not alone.

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Hicks believes the updates are impacting the usefulness of the social media platform, and I can’t say that I disagree. While I personally haven’t yet been affected by these new “features,” Hicks provides some pretty convincing evidence as to why they just don’t cut it. Take this thread for example. One of the comments was blocked by Twitter. Can you guess which one?

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[Image credit: Heat Street]

Apparently the second comment was hidden, but the first tweet is still visible. That doesn’t make much sense to me. I think their detection algorithm may have some (major) flaws. And what happened to just collapsing the tweets instead of altogether hiding them?

It’s also worth noting that users aren’t even able to see when tweets or comments are blocked. Only by logging out can you see a full, uncensored thread.

A well-accepted principle in user experience (UX) design is providing the user with options. Thank you for trying to protect me Twitter, but at least give me the option to see what you’re blocking…especially if your detection methods are this rudimentary. Discouraging abuse be a worthy cause, but how will ignoring UX impact the user base as a whole?

It’s possible that Twitter’s stock may have taken the hit. After peaking on February 8 (one day after the updates), stock prices plunged to their lowest point since July of last year. This downward turn in stock value seems too timely to be unrelated to the backlash from these recent safety updates. Prices have since recovered slightly (though not anywhere near the peak on February 8), but are currently following a downward trend.

@TwitterSafety hasn’t commented at all on the frustrations, but just continues to roll out (and in some cases, recall) safety updates.

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