Jack Dorsey speaking at TED2019. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

In an effort to make Twitter a healthier place, CEO Jack Dorsey said the company is looking to change the focus from following specific individuals to tracking topics of interest, a significant shift from the way the service has always operated.

Why it matters: Twitter remains filled with harassment, especially for women, people of color and LGBTQ communities.

Dorsey acknowledged that what's incentivized today on the service is at odds with the goal of healthy dialogue.

"In the past it’s incented a lot of outrage," he said. "It’s incented a lot of mob behavior. It’s incented a lot of group harassment."

Dorsey highlighted a couple of key priorities.

  • Fighting abuse: The company has also stepped up its ability to proactively remove abuse without users having to first report it to Twitter. Twitter's automated systems now catch about 38% of abusive tweets, Dorsey said at TED on Tuesday. While still a minority, that's up from zero a year earlier, when all abuse had to be manually reported.
  • Making the site more meaningful: "You don’t necessarily walk away feeling you have learned something," he said. "It takes a lot of time and a lot of work to build up to that."

The bottom line: Dorsey said he's not worried that those changes could mean people will spend less time on Twitter. "If more relevance means less time on the service, that’s perfectly fine," he said, adding that if people are having conversations, Twitter "can still serve an ad against that."

Twitter shared additional details in a blog post.

Update: The full video is now live.

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