Despite talk of a comeback, Twitter still has many problems. And at the top of the list: Its spam and abuse issues. There are still too many bots, racists and trolls using the service.
CEO Jack Dorsey knows that, and he promised in March to improve the “health” of conversations happening on Twitter. We have seen some improvement. People are filing fewer abuse reports with the company, and Twitter is suspending nearly 10 million “spammy or automated accounts per week,” the company said in a blog post last month, more than three times the number is was suspending last September.
Now Twitter is sharing more data to prove that it is addressing these problems. Today, the company announced that it suspended more than 143,000 developer apps in the last quarter. Twitter says these apps “violated our policies,” although it wouldn’t say how. In the first quarter, Twitter suspended almost the exact same number of apps, which were responsible for “more than 130 million low-quality, spammy Tweets,” the company said. While that’s a small percentage of all tweets on the service, it’s not an insignificant number, either.
What Twitter wants to convey is that it’s taking the spam issue seriously. So seriously, it says, that it’s going to add a more stringent application process for developers who want to plug their apps into Twitter, making it harder for the bad actors to get through the system. What we still don’t know is what these suspended developers did wrong, though it’s probably unlikely that Twitter has a Facebook-Cambridge Analytica-like situation on its hands, given that — unlike Facebook — Twitter only allows developers to access public information.
In any case, the vast majority of Twitter users don’t care about developer relations. They care about using a service without bots and trolls and racists, which has been Dorsey’s task. Cleaning up Twitter hasn’t been easy — and it’s clearly not done. Earlier this week, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman announced she was stepping away from the service and her 880,000 followers because it had “become an enormous and pointless drain on my time and mental energy.”
“The viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism are at all-time highs, with no end in sight,” she wrote, adding that conversations on Twitter tend to dissolve quickly into angry confrontations or misinformed arguments.
There have been many prominent Twitter deserters, but Haberman’s Twitter profile has risen dramatically over the past two years as one of the busiest reporters covering the chaos of the Donald Trump presidency. As a result, she is likely experiencing an intense version of Twitter that few of us will ever have to deal with. But her complaints likely resonate with most users on the service, even if on a much smaller scale.
They were pointed enough that Dorsey himself took to Twitter to address them. As he has done many times before, Dorsey pledged that Twitter will get better.
“Fundamentally, we need to focus more on the conversational dynamics within Twitter,” he wrote in a thread where he pointed out a number of areas Twitter needs to improve. “We haven’t paid enough consistent attention here. Better organization, more context, helping to identify credibility, ease of use.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.