After reporting harassment on Twitter, the most tangible result is a response from them to let you know that your report was reviewed and the Tweet or user you reported was found to be in violation of a rule. However, in my experience, you don’t always learn what the consequences were. And, as I mentioned in my previous post, I haven’t had a response in almost two years.
I persist in reporting even without receiving an answer from Twitter because, according to their rules and policies, many of the consequences will take into consideration previous reports against that account.
Consequences include the Tweet being made less visible (for instance, being downranked in Replies or Search results), removal of the tweet, time-outs where the violator is put into Read Only mode, and user suspension.
Anecdotally, when checking up on repeat harassers, they sometimes complain about being put into time-outs or, because of previous suspensions, this is not their first account. Since I know who I’ve reported, I know I may have had some impact. More often, harassers complain about being “shadowbanned” – having their content invisible to everyone except themselves without being notified by Twitter.
Twitter has a blog entry denying this practice by Vijaya Gadde and Kayvon Beykpour from July. However, there seems to be an effect of making some content harder to find depending on the interactions that an account has, but that’s not entirely defined.
Embedded within an explanation on how Twitter identifies bad faith actors is: “How other accounts interact with you (e.g. who mutes you, who follows you, who retweets you, who blocks you, etc)”. My persistence relies on that “etc”.
My hope is that with the many instances of reporting harassment against health care workers on Twitter, we put a dent in their algorithms and keep harassment from overwhelming and silencing vital voices.