Twitter is testing features that prioritize ‘social privacy’, shielding accounts from abuse
There are 186 million daily active Twitter accounts, with 38 million users in the United States alone. 86% of its US$3.7 billion in revenue last year came from advertising. However, with growing social media abuse, will advertisers still be convinced that Twitter can deliver the results they want?
Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have been facing rising criticisms due to growing hate speech and abuse allegations found on their services. The social giants have said they will improve their features to protect users, but many parties from consumers to digital privacy advocates feel that not enough is being done.
Twitter and Instagram users often experience the most abuse online today, especially prominent individuals with the blue ‘Verified’ tick marks. Be it politicians or sports personalities, the amount of abuse they get on social media has even prompted many to get off using these platforms or disallow any comments on their posts.
For example, when England lost to Italy during the recent Euro 2020 finals, their players were subjected to harsh abuse on social media. More recently Shelby Rogers, the US tennis player who lost her match in the US Open, said she was facing roughly 9 million death threats coming her way on social media from users who were mad at her for losing. A study by The Guardian showed more than 2000 abusive messages, including scores of racists posts targeting the English national team during the Euro tournament.
How does this affect Twitter business accounts?
While tweets are normally posted by individuals, when it is directed at prominent personalities, it can affect their image on social media. Specifically, these individuals may be under tremendous mental pressure and be tempted to delete their accounts, which can also lead to repercussions, especially when posts are sponsored by businesses. Sponsored posts by businesses can end up facing significant backlash like snide or interfering comments.
Hence, social media companies have been introducing new features to help their users deal with such abuse and bullying. Twitter and Instagram are already actively removing fake accounts and bots on their platforms, while chat applications like WhatsApp have also removed most fake accounts to protect their users.
Twitter is now testing ‘Soft Block’, a method to remove a follower without blocking them. This allows users to have an easier way of curating their followers’ lists, which in turn helps with some privacy.
According to Bloomberg, Twitter executives are calling the new tools “social privacy”. Twitter accounts can be managed to protect users’ lists of followers, the tweets they like, and whether their accounts are public or private.
Other features that Twitter is testing include the ability to hide past tweets. Today, many users want to remove posts they may have made in the past — which can come back and cause them regrettable trouble in the present or future. Twitter plans to offer an easier solution instead of manually deleting posts by combing through years of old messages.
Users will also be soon given the option to remove themselves from public conversations on Twitter. The social media app is planning to test this service before the end of the year. Currently, only the person sending a tweet can choose who to mention.
With Twitter accounts only continuing to increase, ensuring the platform is safe for everyone is becoming a key aim for the social media company. While there are social media applications that are also facing criticism for not doing enough, many are slowly beginning to realize that if they don’t do something, people will want to avoid their platform.
2 December 2022
1 December 2022