Have you been the target of nasty comments on Twitter?
Who hasn’t, right?
Abusive behavior continues to be the black cloud that lingers over the Twitter community, as publicly noted most recently by the ugliness that comedienne Leslie Jones had to endure. Far too many people are forced to choose between leaving the social network altogether, putting up with vile threats from anonymous trolls or being deluged with notifications from bogus spam accounts.
Might Twitter have finally figured out a way to clean up the user experience and restore some basic civility to the conversation, however?
The road to that goal is long, but Twitter may have found the right direction with two major changes we’ve seen lately.
Quality Filter on Twitter Notifications
Last year, Twitter rolled out a new “Quality Filter” in the Notifications section, allowing users to automatically exclude offensive content and tweets from spam accounts from their Notifications. Many experts praised the Quality Filter when it first came out (check out the Washington Post’s review), and I can confirm from personal experience that it does indeed clean things up.
The only problem?
You probably haven’t heard of the Quality Filter before because it is only available to Verified Accounts, those newsmakers and celebrities with that blue check mark next to their user ID. Heck, the strongest filter of all is a section in Notifications where you see only those notices coming from other Verified Accounts.
That’s just a tiny sliver of the overall Twitter population, so what good does that do for the average user?
Not much… until now.
Verified Accounts – Now You Can Apply, Too
The more recent change Twitter made was to allow general users to submit an application to get your account Verified, rather than just rely on Twitter to determine, on their own, who was worthy of that distinction.
I walked through the steps of a Verified Twitter Account Application recently, and sure enough after just a couple days I got that little blue check mark next to my user ID, too! I’m no big shot, so I’m hopeful that many other regular tweeps can get their accounts Verified as well. I strongly encourage you to check out the process and apply yourself!
The Road to Civility on Twitter?
Together, these two developments could dramatically change the user experience on Twitter for the better.
If Twitter makes Account Verification accessible to the broadest possible audience of “real” users, the Verified section of Notifications would then provide a relatively safe haven – notifications that come only from other users who have tied their account to a valid email address, and/or phone number, and/or submitted a photo of their government-issued ID.
While these tools may not have protected Leslie Jones, as she already has a Verified Account (but who knows if she was using the Quality Filter), they would certainly benefit a large number of people who are getting frustrated with the garbage popping up on a daily basis.
Another question is how quickly Twitter will handle Verification Applications if millions of regular users want to sign up. It may turn out, however, that this could be the single most effective action they could take to ensure Twitter’s continued growth.