News & Views
Twitter finally tackles trolling

As of this week, it will be easier to report abuse on Twitter – and not before time. The platform has long been criticised for its lackadaisical approach to curbing online harassment, and for ineffective blocking measures. This vulnerability to trolling has been only too evident in the wake of Gamergate, with doxxing becoming an increasingly common practice. British comedian John Bishop is the latest public figure to quit Twitter following an onslaught of abuse, stating: “I can take anything but when scumbags have a forum to abuse people I love I think it’s time to move away.”


Twitter’s Vice President of Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, issued a statement on Monday outlining how reporting trolls will be simpler from now on. “The changes we’re announcing today to our harassment reporting process and to our block feature are representative of our broader focus on giving people more control over their own Twitter experience,” he says. “We’re also working to take advantage of more behavioural signals – including reports from bystanders – and using those signals to prioritise reports and speed up our review process.”

The official blog post, titled Building A Safer Twitter, explains in further detail: “We’re improving the reporting process to make it much more mobile-friendly, requiring less initial information, and, overall, making it simpler to flag tweets and accounts review. These enhancements similarly improve the reporting process for those who observe abuse but aren’t receiving it directly.” Users will also be given access to a page within their Twitter dashboard where they can view all of the accounts they have blocked. “Additionally, accounts you’ve blocked won’t be able to see your profile.”


These new features are currently being trialled with a small group of users, and are expected to be rolled out globally in the coming weeks. But it won’t be immediately clear whether they will make much of a difference. “Ultimately, Twitter will be judged not by the quality of its tools for reporting abuse but by how well it addresses the reports it receives,” writes Casey Newton at The Verge. “For that, we’ll have to wait and see.”

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