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Ken Doctor: Six months after launching a local news company (in an Alden market), here’s what I’ve learned
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Sept. 25, 2020, 12:48 p.m.
Audience & Social
LINK: techcrunch.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Hanaa' Tameez   |   September 25, 2020

One of Twitter’s summer experiments — to get people to read news articles before retweeting them — will be rolled out to the rest of the platform “very soon.”

Twitter announced the experiment in June in an effort to “promote informed discussion”, as one of a few projects to improve user experience on the platform.

According to Twitter Communications, people opened articles 40 percent more often after they were they were prompted.

The next phase is to make the prompts smaller after a person sees it once (presumably so it doesn’t annoy or patronize users) and to make the feature available to all users worldwide.

TechCrunch’s Taylor Hatmaker writes that the feature is one of the small ways that Twitter is addressing the toxicity that the platform’s design created:

It seems like a small product change, but steps like this — and ideally much bigger ones — could be key to shifting the social media landscape to something less toxic and reactionary. Other test prompts on Twitter and Instagram warn users before they share content that could be harmful or offensive.

After building platforms tuned to get users sharing and engaging as much as possible, introducing friction to that experience seems counterintuitive. But inspiring even just a moment of pause in user behavior might address a number of deeply entrenched social media woes.

Ridding platforms of their problems won’t be easy, particularly for companies that are seldom motivated to make meaningful changes. But reprogramming user behavior away from impulsivity could help undermine the virality of misinformation, harassment, hyper-polarization and other systemic issues that we’re now seeing seep across the thin barrier between online and offline life.

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