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Twitter is testing changes to the way it handles reported tweets

The platform says it’s trying to gather information in a more ‘human-first’ way

Twitter is testing a new way to report abusive tweets
Illustration by Alex Castro

Twitter says it is testing an overhaul to the process for reporting tweets, which it says will ultimately make it easier for users to alert the company to abusive or suspicious behavior. The approach being tested with a small group of users in the US streamlines the current reporting process so that a person reporting a tweet doesn’t have to choose from a list of pre-selected descriptions of what rule a tweet is violating. Instead, the company says, it will ask the user what happened in a “symptoms-first” approach to gather more complete information.

The blog post used the example of a patient in an emergency; the doctor doesn’t ask them, “Is your leg broken?” but rather, “Where does it hurt?” instead. Brian Waismeyer, a data scientist on the health user experience team overseeing the new process, said asking someone to identify a specific issue or symptom isn’t an effective way to find out what’s wrong. “If they’re walking in to get help, what they’re going to do well is describe what is happening to them in the moment,” he said of the patient in the broken leg example.

Twitter is testing changes to how it handles reported tweets
Twitter

“What can be frustrating and complex about reporting is that we enforce based on terms of service violations as defined by the Twitter Rules,” senior Twitter UX manager Renna Al-Yassini said in a statement. “The vast majority of what people are reporting on fall within a much larger gray spectrum that don’t meet the specific criteria of Twitter violations, but they’re still reporting what they are experiencing as deeply problematic and highly upsetting.”

Twitter says by shifting the focus to the person reporting the tweet, it hopes to improve the quality of reports it receives; the more first-hand details it can gather, the more precise it can be when deciding how to handle a reported tweet.

This is the first time in a while that Twitter has made significant changes to its tweet reporting process, other than adding new reasons to report a tweet, such as for spreading coronavirus misinformation and tweeting false information about elections such as voter suppression. In 2019, it gave users the ability to add more details about tweets being reported for sharing personal information.

Twitter said the new reporting process will be rolled out to a wider audience in 2022.