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Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Twitter has selected two proposals to study user interactions and discourse since putting out a call in March for help in measuring "conversation health" on its service.

Why it matters: A growing number of users have been taking time off Twitter, using it less, or quitting it altogether in recent times as they say the service has become mentally toxic.

The two proposals, which Twitter selected from more than 230 submissions:

1. Echo chambers and uncivil discourse: This project will measure the extent of how much Twitter users interact and acknowledge a variety of viewpoints.

  • It will also work on developing algorithms that can distinguish between incivility and tolerance.
  • Uncivil discourse, which breaks the norms of politeness, can serve important functions in political discourse. Intolerance, on the other hand, is defined as including hate speech, racism, and so on, and goes against democracy, per Twitter and the researcher team.
  • This is led by professors from Leiden University, Syracuse University, Delft University of Technology, and Bocconi University.

2. Interactions and decreasing prejudice: This project will study how user behavior on Twitter can (or not) decrease prejudice and discrimination when interacting with users of diverse viewpoints.

  • "When the communication between groups contains more positive sentiments, cooperative emotions, and more complex thinking and reasoning from multiple perspectives, prejudice is reduced and relations can improve," Twitter says.
  • This is led by professors from the University of Oxford and the University of Amsterdam.

Yes, but: Twitter will still have to figure out what to do about the problematic interactions or trends these proposals unearth. And this won't solve some of the big criticisms of the company, including its policies and enforcement regarding abusive and harassing behavior. Some victims have said there are times they don't feel they are getting the help they need from the company.

Go deeper

China deems all cryptocurrency transactions illegal

A person walking past China's central bank in Beijing in August 2007. Photo: Teh Eng Koon/AFP via Getty Images

China's central bank declared on Friday that all cryptocurrencies are illegal, banning crypto-related transactions and cryptocurrency mining, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: China's government is now following through with its goal of cracking down on unofficial virtual currencies, which it has said are a financial, social and national security risk and a contributor to global warming.

Biden's big bet backfires

Two key dealmakers — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — leave a luncheon in the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.

Biden sinks in swing districts

Photo: Biden speaks about wild fires and climate change in Sacramento on September 13, 2021. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/ AFP via Getty Images

Sudden doubts about President Biden's competence — on Afghanistan, immigration and COVID — are driving double-digit drops in his approval in private polling in swing House seats, The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter writes.

Why it matters: "[T]hese early mistakes go directly to the very rationale of his presidency; that it would be low drama and high competence."

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