Twitter turns to academics to improve conversational health on the platform

Twitter turns to academics to improve conversational health on the platform

Twitter is partnering with two groups of academic researchers to figure out how to measure the health of conversations happening on the platform. Despite the fact that it lost 1 million users, the company also posted $100 million in profit during last week’s earnings. Twitter also says that the review committee was organized to include representatives from diverse groups across the company. Well, the review process is now over and Twitter has decided on two research teams, who will focus on two different issues. The first team, led by scholars from Leiden University, will look at how echo chambers form and their effect, as well as the difference between incivility and intolerance within Twitter conversations. The first set of metrics this team is focusing on will look at the extent to which people acknowledge and engage with diverse viewpoints on Twitter. The second set of metrics will look at the difference between incivility and intolerance. Past research by this group shows that incivility can serve important functions in political dialogue, though not without spurring its own problems. On the other hand, intolerant speech (hate speech, racism, xenophobia) threatens our democracy. Just like any social network, Twitter provides scaffolding.

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Twitter is partnering with two groups of academic researchers to figure out how to measure the health of conversations happening on the platform.

It’s all part of the company’s continuing long game for social relevance. Despite the fact that it lost 1 million users, the company also posted $100 million in profit during last week’s earnings. But neither of these numbers seem to change the fact that Twitter needs to make some adjustments to the way people use the social network.

In March, Twitter called for proposals from researchers to see how they might approach the issue of analytics around the types and manner of conversations on Twitter. These proposals were thoroughly reviewed by Twitter employees from a variety of departments at the company, including Engineering, Product, Machine Learning, Data Science, Trust and Safety, Legal and Research. Twitter also says that the review committee was organized to include representatives from diverse groups across the company. (Reminder: less than 10 percent of Twitter employees are diverse, so it was likely a busy few months for those people.)

Well, the review process is now over and Twitter has decided on two research teams, who will focus on two different issues.

The first team, led by scholars from Leiden University, will look at how echo chambers form and their effect, as well as…

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