Banning controversial influencers reduces toxicity on social media platforms, study finds


A common refrain on social media is that much of it is toxic. It is often said that this is the result of people following in the footsteps of social media influencers. A new study says banning or removing “extremists” from social media can reduce the spread of anti-social ideas and conspiracy theories. In recent years, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have distorted many influencers to curb the spread of offensive speech. The deplatform refers to the permanent ban on controversial public figures with high subscribers on social media sites.

The study looked at what happened when people with many followers no longer had a platform to promote their extreme views. He evaluated the effectiveness of the deplatform as a moderation strategy on Twitter.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction. The researchers presented a case study of three high profile influencers who were misrepresented by Twitter. These people were radio host Alex Jones (September 2018), right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos (July 2016) and right-wing comedian Owen Benjamin (April 2018). By banning them, Twitter said they violated its abusive behavior policy.

The researchers worked with more than 49 million tweets and found that the platform “dramatically reduced the number of conversations” involving the three people on the microblogging site. By analyzing the activities of their followers on Twitter, the researchers also found that the followers’ overall activity and toxicity levels declined after the deplatform. The study found that posts referring to each influencer fell by almost 92% after the Twitter action. The number of existing and new users tweeting specifically about each influencer also dropped significantly, by 90%.

“Removing someone from a platform is an extreme step that should not be taken lightly,” lead author of the study Shagun Jhaver, assistant professor in the Department of Library Science, told Rutgers Today. and Rutgers-New Brunswick Information Science. university publication. However, social media platforms have rules to ensure appropriate behavior. “When a site member repeatedly breaks these rules, the platform must take action,” he added.


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