Safety Mode reaches Ireland as Twitter expands its beta testing

16 Feb 2022

Image: © tashatuvango/Stock.adobe.com

Twitter has added new proactive prompts to its Safety Mode feature and hopes to get further insights by bringing the beta to more people.

Twitter is expanding the trial of its new Safety Mode feature, bringing the beta version to users in Ireland, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Following the initial roll-out of testing to a small group last September, Twitter is now expanding it to more people. The company believes this will help it collect “more insights on how Safety Mode is working and explore ways to incorporate additional improvements”.

Future Human

“We want you to enjoy healthy conversations, so this test is one way we’re limiting overwhelming and unwelcome interactions that can interrupt those conversations,” Twitter said when the feature was first announced in September. “Our goal is to better protect the individual on the receiving end of tweets by reducing the prevalence and visibility of harmful remarks.”

What is Safety Mode?

The feature tries to detect when accounts are sending potentially harmful or insulting tweets, to reduce the risks of negative engagements on the social media platform. When uninvited tweets or replies such as these are picked up by the feature, the offending account will be automatically blocked for seven days.

Twitter previously said its technology will “assess the likelihood of a negative engagement by considering both the tweet’s content and the relationship between the tweet author and replier”. This means that blocks won’t come into effect between two users who interact frequently, so playful banter shouldn’t accidentally be mistaken for offending content.

The social media company acknowledged that it “won’t always get this right”. Users will be able to find information about flagged tweets and temporarily blocked accounts through Safety Mode, and can undo autoblocks at any time.

Twitter conducted prior feedback sessions with expert partners in online safety, mental health and human rights. Its Trust and Safety Council was a large part of this, with contributing members asked their opinions and advice.

New features

Twitter said some users testing the new feature want more help to identify “unwelcome interactions”. In order to address this concern, its technology now proactively identifies potentially harmful or uninvited replies and prompts the user to enable Safety Mode so they can avoid reading the replies.

“This update further reduces the burden on people dealing with unwelcome interactions,” Twitter said.

While Twitter works on reducing the risk of negative interactions, the company has received criticism on a feature being tested to allow faster direct messaging. In a tweet earlier this month, Twitter Support said the feature would make it easier for those on the platform to “start a conversation”.

But many users replied raising concerns around how the move could make harassment easier by eliminating the need to go to another user’s profile to send a DM.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com