Shut Up Twitter Trolls With Problematic Quality Filters That Put You in an Echo Chamber

By Gerald Lynch on at

I'm sure Twitter means well with its new "quality filters" aimed at silencing the trolls, but it's really just turning its back on a problem rather than dealing with endemic abuse all over its platform.

Twitter's new controls come in two flavours. First, there's the Quality Filter itself, which, as of today, seems to be turned on by default. This one's actually quite good – it essentially works like a spam messaging filter for an email inbox, intelligently removing duplicate tweets and bot messages from your timeline. Trump's still tweeting away so it isn't perfect, and it'll be interesting to see if it can identify true spam from nascent accounts just finding their feet with Twitter. But in essence this is a good idea.

The second control is less convincing. It's not on by default. It let's you receive notifications only from people you know, rather than having your phone ping every time a random stranger mentions you in a tweet, as is the current default setting. The thought here is that if you're a public figure or on the receiving end of a viral surge, you'll be saved the dodgy messages that so many idiots like to direct at people on Twitter. Only people you follow will have that privilege.

This is problematic. From an optimistic point of view, it'll prevent interaction with potential new online chums who want to shower your groundbreaking views with praise. But perhaps more troubling is that it doesn't really deal with the trolls. Instead, it's just putting vulnerable users in a bubble while the trolls bark at the moon. The hate's still there for others to see, but the people it's directed at will simply be blinkered instead. They'll exist in an echo chamber, not even aware of the potential hate-speech or death threats or whatever other nastiness is headed their way, hidden away.

Full marks for trying, but you can't change barmy attitudes by turning your back on them.

How to Turn on the New Twitter Filter Controls

Should none of this bother you (and, indeed, there will be some who will welcome the above), activating the new controls is simple.

First, head over to the Twitter website, log in, and hit your Mentions tab. To the right of that you'll see a small link to the "Settings" area. You'll then get the two check box controls detailing the above (one activated by default). Alternatively, hit the source link on this page, and you'll jump straight to 'em. [Twitter]