Twitter Addresses Anti-Harassment Concerns With New Mute Filter and Reporting Features

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twitterlogoAlmost three months after news first broke that Twitter was planning to launch new features in order to address a bevy of concerns leveled at the company in regards to bullying and harassment among its users, the company today announced the launch of a few anti-abuse steps it'll be taking to make its platform more inclusive. The final product is slightly different from what was detailed in August, and comes as a simple expansion of Twitter's pre-existing "mute" ability.

Whereas mute was limited to entire accounts before, now users will be able to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations within notifications in Twitter. This way, users can block specific content they don't want to be notified about, without having to completely mute an entire account. The expansion of mute is still a step behind third-party apps like Tweetbot, which let users mute words, hashtags, and users everywhere they appear on Twitter, not just in notifications.

The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment we've seen across the Internet has risen sharply over the past few years. These behaviors inhibit people from participating on Twitter, or anywhere. Abusive conduct removes the chance to see and share all perspectives around an issue, which we believe is critical to moving us all forward. In the worst cases, this type of conduct threatens human dignity, which we should all stand together to protect.

Because Twitter happens in public and in real-time, we've had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct. We took a step back to reset and take a new approach, find and focus on the most critical needs, and rapidly improve. There are three areas we're focused on, and happy to announce progress around today: controls, reporting, and enforcement.

The company also announced, although vaguely, a new way for users to report abuse that violates Twitter's parameters for prohibiting harmful language "that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease." It's unclear how this update differs from Twitter's current "report Tweet" option, but the company said that it offers "a more direct way" for users to report negative conduct when they see it happening.

The process behind the anti-harassment move at Twitter has gotten an overhaul as well, with retrained support teams ready to address user reports of bad behavior, and also overhauled system tools so its employees can "deal more effectively with this conduct when it's reported." Twitter said that its goal is "a faster and more transparent process," with the final outcome aimed to be a "culture of collective support on Twitter."

All the same, the company noted that it understands such improvements won't stop hate speech overnight, or "suddenly remove abusive conduct from Twitter. No single action by us would do that. Instead we commit to rapidly improving Twitter based on everything we observe and learn." The new features will begin appearing on Twitter for iOS, Android, and the web in the coming days. More information on how to install mute keywords and Twitter's hateful conduct policy can be found in the company's help center.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: Twitter

Top Rated Comments

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49 months ago

Well, that's stupid, you just hide the problem, not eliminate it.

Thats true, but it's not up to Twitter to alter society. They can only protect their users.

I think the term of 2017 will be "Safe Space".
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
49 months ago
If this is a serious problem for someone, they should spend a couple bucks and get Tweetbot, which like the article says is way better at this stuff. I love using it to filter crap I don't care about, like Pokemon Go, Android, Kardashians, NBA, and people that I know IRL that started following me so I followed back to be polite but actually don't give a crap about having them clutter my timeline. I also use it to filter out advertisements, remove retweets of accounts I don't care about or are annoyed by, I used it to filter out Star Wars tweets last year so I didn't read spoilers, and I also use regex to do various things.

For instance, this one:

^((#|@)\S+\s*)+$

Removes all tweets that are only usernames and hashtags, which removes clutter. There are more available online, or you can make your own if you're up to that. My timeline is very efficient because of Tweetbot. It's definitely an under-used feature by many users. It even shows you how many tweets from your timeline it removed as you test your queries, so you can see how effective you are at capturing what you want.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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49 months ago

The only thing interesting in that article is that Twitter is still in business.

Only someone so out of touch would say that.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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49 months ago

Well, that's stupid, you just hide the problem, not eliminate it.

No, you make it more like your living room where when your children are present you may prefer that even your best bud not unload what he really thinks about some political candidate of 2016.

Maybe he's welcome to say how great the dinner was, or kid around about how the lawn could use a haircut, but he's not welcome to say that Hillary Clinton is a "****ing criminal bitch" or Donald Trump is a "****ing goddamn misogynist" even if your significant other and half the guests in the living room also think either one of those or both comments are right on the money. It's your living room, your party, your guests... your rules.

See on Twitter it's nice to be able to filter out such remarks --even of a real life friend-- and still get the sense, at least an overview, of what people think about given news events or statements by public officials etc. It's not that you have your head in the sand about an issue, it's that you prefer not to read the adjectives and adverbs some people like to dress stuff up with.

Twitter's anti-harassment enforcement has been... um... uneven to say the least in the past.

I wish them well in this endeavor - but I think it's doomed to failure. Still not sure why mute and/or block can't do the job on their own (only exception is someone making multiple accounts to continue to harass an individual, but again, @support hasn't always acted in these cases, so why would it change now?)

I'm certainly not always interested in reading all of what a bunch of people tweet back to some media outlet's reporter whom I'm following, although I like to see reaction to news events or to stated opinions of people I follow. I can sure see why they'd employ Twitter's new filters though, since from a cursory examination it's pretty clear that many Twitter users deserve to get their mouth scrubbed out with old fashioned brown laundry soap. So for me, blocking and muting is not quite the ticket. I'll give any new Twitter filtering options a shot, though I agree that apps like Tweetbot work pretty well.

One other thing about Twitter or any other so-called "social" media outlet: the angry users whose behavior necessitates or at least suggests need for filters don't represent all of one's country or the whole world. More of us still do understand that to be heard you can't just curse at other people. No matter what kind of filter you stick on social media feeds, you can still be misinformed about what "popular reaction" is if that's all you rely on.

Further, you can be part of popular reaction to something in a way that matters far more than just cursing some messenger. Run for county highway supervisor next time and show that other guy what power to the people really means, don't you have a few dozen friends with friends who will vote for you? That's all it takes to get started. Around here we call it "having a decent snow plow and a resentment."
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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49 months ago
Good! I can maybe hide all those special snowflakes that get mad at me when I talk about asking for gun control, or that black lives matter.
[doublepost=1479256843][/doublepost]

Well, that's stupid, you just hide the problem, not eliminate it.

There's a rise in anti-semitism, homophobia... I can't be bothered writing them all out so let's say there's a rise in bigotry right now. If people can't behave themselves and be normal then, well, it's off to the mute pile you go. I'm there to have a good time not argue with neo-nazis - but the good thing is this is all optional so those that do want to argue with them can do.
What a world.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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49 months ago
SAFE SPACE!!! LOL!!!
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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