Evaluating the Effectiveness of Deplatforming as a Moderation Strategy on Twitter

Shagun Jhaver, Christian Boylston, Diyi Yang and Amy Bruckman:

Deplatforming refers to the permanent ban of controversial public figures with large followings on social media sites. In recent years, platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have deplatformed many influencers to curb the spread of offensive speech. We present a case study of three high-profile influencers who were deplatformed on Twitter—Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Owen Benjamin. Working with over 49M tweets, we found that deplatforming significantly reduced the number of conversations about all three individuals on Twitter. Further, analyzing the Twitter-wide activity of these influencers’ supporters, we show that the overall activity and toxicity levels of supporters declined after deplatforming. We contribute a methodological framework to systematically examine the effectiveness of moderation interventions and discuss broader implications of using deplatforming as a moderation strategy.

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