Twitter’s newly commissioned health studies may be shots in the dark


Twitter at present introduced it had chosen two finalists in its months-long seek for a “well being metric” — primarily an enormous, figurative dipstick by which it may inform how nicely everybody’s getting alongside on the location. Twitter chosen researchers with dazzling bona fides, however the firm must also disclose what, if something, it may do with their findings.

Last March, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey waved the figurative white flag and introduced he was calling on somebody, anybody to give you a manner of measuring the platform’s well being. Particularly, he stated:

What we all know is we should decide to a rigorous and independently vetted set of metrics to measure the well being of public dialog on Twitter. And we should decide to sharing our outcomes publicly to profit all who serve the general public dialog.

Now, the company has announced the two projects it plans to support, out of the hundreds submitted. The first, to be conducted by a team of researchers led by Dr Rebekah Tromble of Leiden University, will examine “how communities form around political discussions on Twitter, and the challenges that may arise as those discussions develop.” The second, run by researchers from Oxford and the University of Amsterdam, will examine “how exposure to a variety of perspectives and backgrounds can decrease prejudice and discrimination.”

The research itself actually sounds fascinating, and I’d be curious to see what results these two teams yield. But I have the same concerns about this investment in research that I did when Dorsey first announced it in March.

What would Twitter do with this gathered information? They’ll have more health data than the darned Mayo Clinic — but what could the company do to improve the health of its platform that it’s not already trying to do?

It’s already cutting down on bot accounts, and never displaying locked accounts in Twitter follower counts — each of which go in direction of ensuring customers know the particular person they’re interacting with is an actual particular person. That’s the most important step, so far as I’m involved, in direction of enhancing the dialog.

Twitter can solely present the bones of the beast — and repair these once they’re damaged. It’s the customers who’ve to produce the meat, by way of their interactions. And if the analysis finds these political discussions or “number of views and backgrounds” don’t create constructive interactions, or any discussions in any respect, Twitter’s choices for the way to repair it appear restricted.

If Twitter can discover a option to bridge these gaps, and get customers to speak to one another who would possibly in any other case not, whereas additionally taking care to not present desire for sure opinions over others — I might wish to be the primary to see it.

by way of Axios

Measuring healthy conversation
on Twitter

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