After widespread criticism, Twitter is starting to take its troll problem seriously.
After the announcement last week that it would be bringing new safety features to users, Twitter has finally unveiled three new tools in its anti-troll arsenal:
Keeping the exiled trolls out
Twitter has stated it is “taking steps” to identify users whose accounts have been suspended on the grounds of harassment, in order to prevent them from creating new profiles. The official blog post recognises that registering anonymous accounts with the sole purpose of trolling and harassment is one of the “most prevalent and damaging forms of behaviour,” but does not go into detail on how exactly these trolls will be identified and weeded out.
The new Safe Search function removes tweets from blocked or muted accounts from your search results on the platform, along with “potentially sensitive” content. This can be accessed in the Help Centre.
Hiding abuse on the Timeline
Conversation threads containing “potential abusive” and “low-quality” replies will be collapsed in users’ timelines, meaning they will be less likely to encounter harmful content. These tweets won’t necessarily be removed from Twitter, but this measure does at least automatically deprive such content of a wider audience.
These new features come just a week after the introduction of the platform’s improved reporting tool, which makes it easier for users to make a complaint when they are experienced targeted abuse. Such measures are long overdue; Twitter has been criticised relentlessly for its laissez-faire attitude towards online harassment, and it only started to step up its game last year. And while these three safety options may be partially effective in stemming the tide of abuse on Twitter, they treat the symptom, not the cause.