Twitter claims it has become a safer site thanks to all its anti-abuse efforts, but there’s no way to tell if that’s true because the company didn’t share any hard numbers behind its data.
In a closed-door meeting with reporters from several outlets this week, Twitter said it’s taking action against 10 times the number of accounts it did one year ago, and that it has suspended twice as many accounts in the last four months than it did in previous months. That sounds pretty good, but the devil is in the details.
“Taking action” just means that Twitter is warning users and temporarily limiting their tweets’ visibility. Other times it goes as far as suspending accounts. Regardless, whatever data Twitter shared with reporters was not complete. Twitter did not share a specific numbers for how any accounts it has suspended other than “thousands more”.
Twitter will consider releasing the raw data behind its observations in the future, according to The Verge. Among its excuses for not show its work is that it fears releasing data could lead to other requests from governments and law enforcement agencies.
Even if Twitter’s claims are true, users still aren’t happy with how the social network handles abuse. This week, Buzzfeed reported that users were upset that Twitter was ignoring obvious credible threats unless reported by celebrities or journalists.
External research supports the idea of the internet still being filled with abusive trolls. A nationally representative US study on online harassment released by Pew Research reveals that 40 per cent of internet users have been the target of abusive behaviour online. That number climbs to 67 per cent for young people between the ages of 18 and 29.
Twitter has implemented new tools recently to try to fight abusive behaviour and lower those statistics. Too bad it won’t offer hard numbers of its own to show they are working.