Troll Armageddon: Twitter brings out better tools to beat online harassment

3 Dec 2014

Twitter has released improved tools for users to report harassment and block tormentors as a way of handling the rise of bad language and threats of rape or death by users against other users of the social network.

The company is releasing a more streamlined mechanism for reporting harassment and blocking users.

Twitter is also improving the process to make it much more mobile-friendly.

The new updates are currently available to a small group of users but in the coming weeks will roll out to the entire Twitter audience, who post more than 500m tweets daily.

“We’re improving the reporting process to make it much more mobile-friendly, require less initial information, and, overall, make it simpler to flag Tweets and accounts for review,” said Shreyas Doshi, director of product management (User Safety) at Twitter.

“These enhancements similarly improve the reporting process for those who observe abuse but aren’t receiving it directly. And to enable faster response times, we’ve made the first of several behind-the-scenes improvements to the tools and processes that help us review reported tweets and accounts.”

Twitter has created a new blocked accounts page that users can access from the settings menu and which makes it easier to see accounts that have been blocked.

Accounts that have been blocked will no longer be even able to view a user’s profile.

More controls on the way

Doshi said Twitter will be adding even more controls and features to the page in the coming months.

While Twitter has always prided itself on being a forum for free speech, there has been an enormous rise in online harassment and abuse, most notably in the case of the #GamerGate saga that has seen female games reviewers receive death and rape threats.

“We are nowhere near being done making changes in this area,” Doshi added.

“In the coming months, you can expect to see additional user controls, further improvements to reporting and new enforcement procedures for abusive accounts. We’ll continue to work hard on these changes in order to improve the experience of people who encounter abuse on Twitter.”

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years