Published: Wed, November 16, 2016
IT | By Jonathon Greene

Twitter adds new options to curb abuse, harassment

Twitter adds new options to curb abuse, harassment

Numerous signature elements of Twitter-anonymity and rapid-fire comment threads-are the very things that make it so prone to abuse and harassment.

Furthermore, it has adopted its policies to better define the unacceptable discrimination which can be flagged up by users. On enforcement, the company said it recently retrained all of our support teams, including special sessions on cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct, and implemented an ongoing refresher program.

As the company admits in a blog post titled "Progress on addressing online abuse", they've "had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct" due to the fact that Twitter happens in real time - and likely due to the sheer volume of abuse reports they get. The latter has been sorely needed, as users often complain of the lack of action from Twitter when they report harassing accounts. "Instead we commit to rapidly improving Twitter based on everything we observe and learn", said the company's post. Now, users can mute keywords as well as specific conversations.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defined the changes as "meaningful updates" during its quarterly earnings report last month. Twitter's move comes after an election cycle that saw, among other incidents, a prominent anti-Semitic movement on the network - it has been repeatedly criticized for not moving quickly enough to combat harassment on its site.

From the racist and sexist abuse hurled at "Ghostbusters" actress Leslie Jones to the vile messages sent to Jamie Bulger's mother blaming her for her son's death, there are countless examples of the social network being used to spread hate. Now, with rumblings that users feeling unsafe on the platform has torpedoed potential sales, Twitter is finally dropping the hammer. And two big companies reportedly backed away from buying Twitter, which has been struggling to attract new users, because of its shoddy record on handling abuse. The company has been adding new features for years, yet the problem persists. Blocking informs the person being blocked, while muting does not, so mute can help reduce the likelihood an abusive person will simply create a new Twitter account and continue directing comments at a target.

Referencing Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who is permanently suspended from Twitter, Bloomberg expressed support for the increase in free speech curtailing tools, while Twitter's head of Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, claimed that there is still more work to do. Muting lets you opt to ignore hateful tweets, which is the exact opposite of taking action.

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