Women are Abused Every 30 Seconds on Twitter, Amnesty International Says

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Women are Abused Every 30 Seconds on Twitter, Amnesty International Says

International non-governmental organization, Amnesty International has described Twitter as a social media platform hostile to women.

The human rights organization, with the help of 6,500 volunteers recently undertook a study of tweets sent to 778 women between January and December 2017. The women included both journalists and politicians from the UK and the US. And about 288,000 tweets sent from this period were analyzed.

Using machine learning algorithms, analysis of the 288,000 tweets was further extrapolated to another 14.5 million tweets from 2017 that mentioned the women being studied.

The study revealed that around 7.1% or 1.1 million of these tweets were offensive or abusive. In other words, “one abusive tweet is sent every 30 second”.

Although the study focused on just two countries and two professions, its significance is that the female users in these categories consider Twitter for their jobs. Journalists use the platform to share news and observe trends, while politicians use it to reach and gather a wider following.

“But for many women, Twitter is a platform where violence and abuse against them flourishes, often with little accountability”, Amnesty International wrote in March 2018.

Amnesty International’s research holds that despite the significance of Twitter and other social media platforms, operators of the platform are not doing enough to uphold the respect of women’s right. They allege that the platform is failing to adequately investigate and respond to reports of violence and abuse in a transparent manner.

“The violence and abuse many women experience on Twitter has a detrimental effect on their right to express themselves equally, freely and without fear. Instead of strengthening women’s voices, the violence and abuse many women experience on the platform leads women to self-censor what they post, limit their interactions, and even drives women off Twitter completely.”

In its recommendation, Amnesty International suggested that machine learning algorithms are a great way to address and control these abuses online. However, it added that dedicated manual moderation is also copiously needed.

Twitter Adds a New Update that Gives Users Greater Control Over Their Timelines

In another development, Twitter has finally announced a new change that gives users greater control over their timelines. The platform will now allow users select what sort of tweet to be displayed on their timelines.

Previously, Twitter used an algorithm to select what gets displayed on timelines. Users get to see a mixture of the top tweets alongside the latest tweets from people they follow. Top tweets are usually selected and displayed based on a host of factors like number of retweets, comments, likes, and how many times a user has engaged with tweets from a particular user.

An algorithmically curated Twitter timeline helps increase engagement as it shows tweets a user will most likely want to see. However, not everybody likes this system and users have constantly requested it should be changed.

Now Twitter has finally heeded to this request and has brought back the old timeline. They will now be able to see tweets arranged in chronological order. In order words, newer tweets will appear first.

Even more interestingly, users can switch between the types of timeline anytime they want.

“We’ve learned that when showing the best tweets first, people find Twitter more relevant and useful,” the company said recently. “However, we’ve heard feedback from people who at times prefer to see the most recent tweets.”

The latest version of the Twitter app comes with a “sparkle” button that allows users to switch timelines easily.

Twitter also announced that users who return to the site after being offline for quite some time will get to see the top tweets first. This helps to update them with trendy tweets that are likely to interest them. But of course, users can still switch to the chronological timeline when they want.


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