Love and unicorns … can software make us nicer people?

Play nice! How the internet is trying to design out toxic behaviour

Love and unicorns … can software make us nicer people?

Online abuse can be cruel – but for some tech companies it is an existential threat. Can giants such as Facebook use behavioural psychology and persuasive design to tame the trolls? [8 Minute Read]

Most striking section:

(and probably b/c spent all last night writing about it)

But with user numbers falling, Twitter is now taking a harder look at its culture.
Psychologist turned web design consultant Susan Weinschenk, author of 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, compares the speed at which aggressive behaviour colonises platforms with the infamous“broken windows” thesis of how neighbourhoods decline. One small incident, left unchallenged, quickly creates the impression that anything goes and thus encourages more serious problems. Gentler souls move out, and troublemakers move in.

Source: Play nice! How the internet is trying to design out toxic behaviour | The Guardian


+Commentary: Just spent all of last night writing about this very same topic, and the post should be up in a few hours after editing. This topic about making the web a better place, invoking user experience & interaction design is key. The metaphor invoking broken windows is especially telling & a particularly brilliant point. Keeping in mind as well that “quality of life” issues in major metropolises all across the world also serves to marginalize and in a “stop-and-frisk” way intimidate or discriminate. Effective silencing legitimate behaviours or further marginalizing groups.

While no one is designing a ‘profiling’ algorithm, perhaps they should create a version that alerts these platforms to a particularly toxic piling on which we see nearly everyday. These things again require an actual human to mediate, and the machine can not learn its way fast enough to differentiate semantically between humor, sarcasm, and abuse. We have hopes one day it can and will, but for now the best way is to have a real human being review it. With these social media platforms become the defacto place to have discourse around news topics the tech world needs to treat this as a business imperative, not a cause du jour to please their shareholders.

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