Despite being one of the world’s biggest social networks, Twitter has been criticized time and time again for failing to tackle the ongoing problem of harassment that many users face on the site. A study in May 2016 revealed more than 200,000 potentially harmful tweets were posted by 86,500 users in only a three week period. Now, with the introduction of three new tools to increase safety, the company is beginning to tackle the problem directly.
Twitter announced these features in a blog post on Tuesday, detailing their plans for standing up against those who use the site to challenge the opinions of others:
“We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic. That’s put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices. We won’t tolerate it and we’re launching new efforts to stop it.”
In July 2016, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey highlighted the problem of abuse on the site following former CEO Dick Costolo’s admission of embarrassment to his staff regarding the issue. The ongoing battle against online abuse has forced many high-profile celebrities to leave the site in recent years and some say that Dorsey’s request to users this year regarding what should be improved was long overdue.
After this essential feedback, the site began work back in November to give users more control over what they see on Twitter. They did this by expanding on the long standing mute function that allows users to mute posts from any account they no longer wish to see tweets from, whether they are following that account or not. By introducing this function into the notifications center, users can mute keywords, phrases and conversations they wish not to appear in their own notifications. The recent announcement of three changes will continue to work in the same vein and the company hopes that this will deter so-called ‘twitter trolls’. Users should expect the following changes in the coming weeks, although some may not be as noticeable as others:
The creation of new abusive accounts
Prior to this change, users that had been permanently suspended from the site were able to create a new account from scratch. Twitter wishes to identify those that have been suspended and stop them from using the site again.
Safer search results
Tweets that include content that some people may find sensitive and potentially harmful will be removed by the new ‘safe search’ feature. This also includes tweets from accounts that users have muted or blocked.
Collapsing low quality or abusive tweets
Abusive and low quality tweets will no longer be tolerated in your news feed thanks to this feature that will instead bring forward the most relevant updates.
Twitter ended this blog post with a statement that identified the importance of user feedback, saying that they will “learn, iterate, and continue to move at this speed until we’ve made a significant impact that people can feel.”