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Twitter Announces (More) Hate-Speech Fighting Tools (Again) (cnn.com) 341

Building on anti-harassment tools announced in November, Twitter is now "trying to shake its reputation as a haven for online harassment" with still more new internal algorithms and features, reports CNN. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The changes include preventing serial abusers from creating new accounts, a new "safe search" function and blocking potentially abusive and "low-quality" tweets from appearing in conversations, Twitter's engineering chief Ed Ho said in a blog post. Twitter is working on identifying users that have been permanently suspended and prevent them from creating new accounts, Ho said. This new measure specifically targets "accounts that are created only to abuse and harass others," he said, a problem that has long plagued the platform.

The new safe search function prevents tweets that are abusive, or from blocked and muted accounts, from appearing in users' search results. Those tweets can still be found if people want to see them, but they "won't clutter search results any longer," Ho said. And Twitter will now collapse tweet replies that are potentially abusive or low quality -- like duplicate tweets or content that appears to be automated. But those tweets "will still be accessible to those who seek them out," Ho said.

The blog post announces Twitter's ultimate goal is "a significant impact that people can feel," arguing that freedom of speech for all viewpoints is "put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices."
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Twitter Announces (More) Hate-Speech Fighting Tools (Again)

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2017 @09:37PM (#53848539)

    âoePolitical correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination. I'm not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.â

    and

    "Political Correctness is fascism pretending to be manners"

    - George Carlin

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I've heard it referred to as "the tyranny of the politically correct."

      I don't envy Twitter....they want to allow free speech, but they also want to suppress the pointless static and harassment that takes place. The problem is that one person's free expression of ideas is another person's harassment, and it's hard to be impartial.

      Everything is fine until the trolls and griefers outnumber the normal users by 10 or 20 to 1... then it all becomes a shit show.

      • I was writing a lengthy response that contained observations and conjectures about social media, when I hit upon one important factor. For some reason YouTube and Twitter seem to have sort of "media darlings", and that factor more than any other seems to indicate whether harassment happens.
    • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Sunday February 12, 2017 @12:26AM (#53849235)

      âoePolitical correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination.

      This isn't about restricting or controlling people's language or fighting discrimination, it's about stopping harassment.

      Consider criminal law, assuming you don't care about safety or property or anything besides freedom, then what do you want for a set of laws?

      The easy answer is anarchy, but that's wrong because under anarchy a strongman will come in and take your freedom. The laws that give you the most freedom are also going to protect your safety and property, because if others are free to threaten you then you don't have freedom.

      The same applies to speech, giving people the freedom to harass gives them the power to silence.

  • Doomed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wuhao ( 471511 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @09:42PM (#53848559)

    Twitter wants to have it both ways: it wants to have a big room where they can put in all the liberals and conservatives, all the Islamists and Zionists, and have them talk about whatever is happening in their world... and then it wants them all to get along. It doesn't work that way.

    To put it more technically, Twitter's problem is that, as a social network, it reflects a connected graph of hundreds of millions of people. A lot of those people aren't going to like each other very much. Now they're making themselves responsible for the safety of their users, and that does two really bad things:

    1) It announces that Twitter is presently an unsafe platform, and
    2) It puts them in the middle of whatever fight any two people might have, equipped with no tools to resolve the underlying conflicts that drive those fights, and only their own subjective morals (with all the attendant biases those bring) to resolve them.

    Twitter is at war with itself here.

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )

      You're right, it's hurting our brand. So now you're assigned to fix it. Have an action plan on my desk in a month or you're fired.

      Fortunately it doesn't matter if you actually follow through on any of the crap in it, or if you do, that any of it is actually efficacious. I just need something to tell the board/shareholders. Ideally the users swallow it too.

      This is much more important damage control that the effects of people seeing our quarterly earnings.

      • You're right, it's hurting our brand. So now you're assigned to fix it. Have an action plan on my desk in a month or you're fired.

        In other words, you're paying me for a month while I look for a new job.

    • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @10:29PM (#53848769)

      Twitter wants to have it both ways: it wants to have a big room where they can put in all the liberals and conservatives, all the Islamists and Zionists, and have them talk about whatever is happening in their world... and then it wants them all to get along. It doesn't work that way.

      If Twitter's actions of late are any indication, it would be more accurate to say that it wants to put everyone in a big room where only the SJW/liberal voices are allowed to talk and everyone else sits quietly out of fear of being banned like Milo.

      There is no such thing as one-way freedom of speech. If you're telling someone else that their speech is hate speech and therefore not allowed, you're ultimately hurting your own freedom just as much as theirs. As Robespierre [wikipedia.org] could warn you, the rules and laws you make to oppress others today will be turned against you tomorrow.

    • they'll prolly end up banning anything that doesnt go the way of the majority of twitter engineers/people with most followers/etc though.
      basically, if you post child porn nobody will care, but if, oh god forbid, you say something bad about political candidate X all hell will break lose, perma banned, etc.

  • Hate Speech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by _KiTA_ ( 241027 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @09:54PM (#53848609) Homepage

    Let me give you an example of "Hate Speech" that I have been harassed and attacked over saying, including on this very website.

    "There are only two genders. Male and Female."

    Which pretty much sums up the problem with fighting "hate speech." The regressive left has co-opted and twisted the meaning of the already meaningless term "hate speech" -- along with other terms like "racism" or "nazi" -- to the point that they've lost all semblance of meaning.

    But "Twitter announces more [UnAmerican Political Censorship] tools (Again.)" doesn't have the same kick to it, I guess.

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      "There are only two genders. Male and Female."

      I'm not sure that without further context that would be considered hate speech.

      You will certainly (and have in response to this post) get people trying to helpfully educate you, but that's not harassment. That's people trying to remove your ignorance.

      But it's an interesting example; Twitter might ban you, and would almost certainly not ban people that actually did harass you for saying this. This is an inherent flaw in Twitter and why people are abandoning it as a platform.

      • Re: Hate Speech (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 12, 2017 @09:13AM (#53850629)

        Ars Technica recently banned over 30 users because they referred to Bradley Manning as "him". No trolling, insults, or even hostility. Just using the wrong word.

        SJW is a mental illness and a plague. They are fascists in the literal meaning of the word.

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          Some people use 'him' to describe Chelsea Manning and their intentional use of the term is hostile and indeed trolling in itself.

          Bradley Manning is more complex.. Technically he was representing as male, so I'd call him 'him'. Chelsea though is a no-brainer. Just use female pronouns with her.

          That's a courtesy some people seem to find beyond them though. I can understand Ars Technica choosing to remove rude trolls from their site.

  • by geek ( 5680 )

    Jack and Marissa should get together and compare notes on how to fuck a once prominent company.

  • And of course, the thin-skinned Twitter twits get to decide what's "abusive" or "low-quality."

    They have no problem with censorship, as long as they're the ones doing the censoring.
    • "They have no problem with censorship, as long as they're the ones doing the censoring."

      You know how email has such a problem with censorship? Oh, wait, it's an interoperable protocol, not a platform.

      You should have your choice of censorship - but until there's federated social networking you won't have freedom of expression (unless you happen to get lucky).

      • Twitter allows you to follow and block people. That alone seems like "Free Speech" to me. I don't believe you gain much by 140 characters and links, and quite frankly never thought it would be as popular as it is. I thought it would be Nagios channels for everyone who needed it. That said, you don't have to read things you dislike and can sign up for things you like.

        Twitter got into trouble by blocking Free Speech. Many people stopped using it or went on the offensive because of Twitter blocking people

  • @jack doesn't care what someone says if they are on his side politically. However, if you happen to offend someone on @jack's side, twitter will shut someone down with no warning and little explanation.

  • What will SJW allow? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @10:25PM (#53848755) Journal
    Blasphemy reporting about a faith or cults reaction to cartoons? No cartoons posted, links to cartoons? SJW approved news sites about cartoons that might show cartoons then also get banned?
    Communist party officials don't like been reminded of any terms surrounding Tiananmen Square and the use of numbers like 1989?
    Whats left on the site that teams of SJW approve of?
    Celebrities posting about events or their new projects? Only happy movie reviews are allowed by teams of SJW?
    Governments posting "fictional" accounts of tourism in their repressive nations?
    No mention of human rights issues or import/export deals to support wars?
    SJW approved officials promoting their city or town projects can be helped to trend?
    People posting real news or comments about such policies are removed and reported to their own governments?
    Everyone fun or interesting expecting freedom of speech and freedom after speech will just follow the fun people to real US sites offering real freedoms.
    Been banned and reported on by gov workers from other nations, by SJW and other groups does not make interesting people want to stay with any brand offering social media.
    Censorship by a SJW in the name of a faith, gov, political party is not a selling point that attracts users.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      It's not what the SJW allow; it's what the management of what after all is a privately hosted service allows.

      Twitter is dealing with the fact that it is long past the exponential growth phase, and it needs to hold on to users, particularly the most valuable users. And you're just not that valuable.

      Women, on the other hand, control 85% of purchases made in the United States, and with that comes clout. It's more important to Twitter that women find its service congenial than some pack of alienated, juvenile

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      which is worse, you for posting a list of shit that has nothing to do with SJWs, or the 4 morons who modded you up?

    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      Were you beaten by SJWs as a child? Have you checked under your bed, they might be hiding there!
    • by skam240 ( 789197 )

      How you got modded up is beyond me. Your lines of text are barely coherent and I cant make sense of most of them. Your post smells of someone who speaks English as a second language and thus lacks legitimacy in the context of the US.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Since "SJWs" have no control over the filter, the answer is that they will be forced to allow whatever Twitter deems acceptable.

      By your reasoning, the ability to hide low scored posts on Slashdot is censorship, presumably by the dreaded SJWs since they seem to be responsible for everything in your world.

      Note how it is targeted at new accounts. If someone creates a new account, and immediately starts screaming abuse at another established one, that's a pretty good sign that it's trolling. Even if it isn't, f

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @11:13PM (#53848905)

    I think there is still an #assassinatetrump tag.

    Thousands of such threats are posted all the time.

    On the hand, Twitter has recently disabled the account of a cartoonist, with 1.3 million followers, because he offended a feminist.

    Any kind of anti-white hate is fine. Okay for Muslims to post hateful tweets against Jews, or anybody else, but it is not okay to offend Muslims.

    • Which cartoonist? I would assume you mean Scott Adams, but he didn't post about it on his blog.

      That said, given his frequent complaints about shadowbanning, and the distrust that generates for the platform, I can see banning him for business reasons.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Why do you never post links to these incidents? Which cartoonist are you referring to? There was the fake news about that Trump-as-a-baby cartoon being banned, maybe that?

      When you look at these cases in detail, they are never as simple as "Twitter banned someone for ideological reasons" or "because a feminist was offended". As usual, my .sig applies.

  • Funny how Twitter pretty much ignored complaints and requests from users to implement tools to stop harassment and hate speech for the longest time back when this all started, several years ago waaaay before everything that the election brought with it, but now that the company's ass is on the line with failing stock prices they finally decided to do something about it... I'm guessing too little too late. Just too many users lost because of the problems they refused to solve.

  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Saturday February 11, 2017 @11:25PM (#53848961)
    Disagreement is now harrassment.
    Mockery is now hate speech.
    Offense is now trauma.
    Criticism is now abuse.
    Compelling criticism is now violence.
    Anyone who talks about subjects the MSM wants to suppress is now a troll.
    Anyone at random is a racist/sexist/white supremacist/nazi/etc if they say so.

    The use of this alarmist (and usually, simply wrong) language is ubiquitous and deliberate. It's all a pretense to justify a disproportionate censorial "response," especially when they know no response is warranted at all. It's also a brazenly transparent tactic, especially since Twitter/Reddit/etc rarely seem to use it against users that properly align with their politics.

    This video is an excellent illustration of how the media lies about "online abuse" (and how even the crumbs that are true are exaggerated for false impact):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    P.S. It's also entertaining as Hell cuz Milo's a riot.
  • Have I missed a change in law? My understanding is that phone companies, ISPs, etc., are not responsible for what is carried on their network because they are considered "common carriers". However, it seems to me that the more a company "curates" the content it carries, the greater the responsibility it has for that content. I'm wondering whether Twitter has stepped into a huge legal minefield by effectively censoring content that is not clearly illegal.
  • 1. Delete Trump and suspend POTUS

    2. Delete anyone who uses all CAPS LOCK

    Doesn't fix everything, but the volume would reduce dramatically.

  • I find it strange that some people believe that they have a right to be on a private website. What I find even stranger is that many of the people arguing that Twitter is somehow being unfair also support the idea of "my business, my rules" but persist on complaining anyway. If you don't like twitter, there are other sites you can visit. Secondly, you don't have the right to be read by other people. People are free to ignore you, regardless of your cause, just or otherwise.

    • Nope, sorry. You already lost that argument when your side bankrupted a bakery that tried to implement "my business, my rules".

      We've read Alinsky too, and we are perfectly happy mocking you for failing to live by your own rules.

      • Nope, sorry. You already lost that argument when your side bankrupted a bakery that tried to implement "my business, my rules".

        A) I don't have a "side" because I disagree with both parties.
        B) "my business, my rules" doesn't prohibit people from refusing you business. Feel free to do the same to Twitter.

        We've read Alinsky too, and we are perfectly happy mocking you for failing to live by your own rules.

        I'm not sure which rules you are talking about but you seem to think society is a game of "us versus them" which is very shortsighted. We may not agree all the time but we should be working together to make a better future for everyone.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        You are confused. The ruling against the bakery is that they can't refuse to serve people based on their sexuality. If they had put a rule in place like "no political messages" and enforced it universally they would have been fine.

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      My problem with twitter's policies is that influential media organisations use it as a communication channel and also quote it in serious news.

      E.g. the BBC "live" coverage of events in parliament is liberally sprinkled with twitter comments.

      The BBC are already demonstrating a horrific lack of diversity in their reporting, letting twitter skew that further would be bad.

  • None of that "up to moderator discretion" BS.

    For example, Kellyanne Conway is known for saying/writing things (including untruths) which results in a torrent of hostile and trolling tweets sent her way.

    Other prominent figures such as journalists and activists are also known to say things (including untruths) that result in hostile tweet storms directed their way.

    Would a barrage of calling someone dumb constitute abuse and harassment? We need clarity and transparency.

  • How will that work? Social media users could get a new ip from their ISP as part of low cost ISP accounts.
    So if not every ISP account gives out a static IP whats the next step in tracking banned users?
    Linguistic analysis?
    Expect the banned user to reuse some of the same details when creating a new account?
    Seeing who quickly comments on a new account and see if they had a past connection with a banned user?
    Ask governments globally to track banned users ISP logs and see if they create a new account
    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      and don't forget about VPNs...
      • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
        The hope been every banned user would just try to create a new account with their original smart phone and that same social media app again and again behind a VPN?
        i.e. the app or smart phone used is still unique to that banned account.
    • Why do you think it is about detecting people hopping accounts to evade bans? Just because they say so? Ha!

      No, this is just pre-justification for banning anyone they want, for any reason, at any time. Post supporting President Trump? Banned! - you are obviously just a sock puppet of someone they already banned that said something similar. What are you going to do? Sue to get your account back?

  • I don't have a Twitter account so all those fucktards have no voice in my universe. What's your excuse?
  • Given how wide "hate speech" can be defined with the political correctness fascists, there is no chance at all this will be used for censorship.
    Free speech should be unalienable.

  • It's dead, Jim.

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