Twitter’s New Plan To Fight Harassment

Two faces

Twitter has had huge popularity and has been recently heavily under fire for not doing enough to combat online harassment on their platform. The management has recently made it known that they are working on strengthening anti-harassment features of their platform to help alleviate these concerns.

Two faces

If you have been on twitter for a while, you will know that online harassment is one of the key peeves and major issues that twitter has had to deal with in recent times. There have been two sides to the argument, the first one says that the platform should take stringent steps to prevent harassment and dock the accounts that go after people for expressing opinions, the other side of the coin is the argument that everyone has FoE and however contrarian they are, opinions and counterpoints are needed and healthy.

The good folks  at twitter have been struggling with the means and implementation of what to do to get out of this vicious circle. Recently the top management came out and made it very clear that they are implementing stringent steps to tackle harassment on their platform

Dick Costolo, the former CEO of Twitter, said today during the Upfront Summit in Los Angeles that he missed an opportunity to stop bullying on the platform. In short, it proved to be a very complicated problem (“lots of edge cases”) and he got distracted by other things: Moreover, being a hired CEO rather than a founder made him less bold:

I wish I could turn back the clock and go back to 2010 and stop abuse on the platform by creating a very specific bar for how to behave on the platform… I take responsibility for not taking the bull by the horns.

Costolo added that social media bullying is a bit like tech’s spam problem, in which you must make it more time-consuming and expensive to be the abuser than the abused. He also believes that dichotomy can extend to the “fake news” situation, and that Twitter should engage in manual curation that highlights authoritative voices rather than just hyperbolic ones. (source: axios )

On Monday night, Ed Ho, Twitter’s VP of engineering, hinted at the changes in a tweet, including “long overdue fixes to mute/block” features, and new measures to stop serial abusers from creating new accounts.

A Twitter spokesperson wouldn’t go into specifics but said in a statement that the company is approaching the issue with “a sense of urgency” and confirmed that users would see changes rolling out in the coming days.

“Some will be immediately visible, while others will be more targeted to specific scenarios,” according to the statement.

According to a source close to the company, Twitter will offer more muting options that allow users to avoid certain topics and manage repetitive notifications. For example, if a user wants to block a hateful word from appearing or stop seeing tweets about the Jeff Sessions hearings, they’ll be able to.

Twitter has had a problem with users creating multiple accounts for the sole purpose of harassing others. The source said the company is getting better at detecting when the same user is creating multiple accounts and stopping them in the process.

Twitter recently updated its hateful conduct policy with stronger wording, which clarifies how and when it can crack down. The source said this will allow more people to flag abusive tweets and will give Twitter more latitude to ban accounts that are violating its terms.

Twitter’s verification process has also been a source of contention — especially when alt-right users have been verified. The source said Twitter will be providing more context and transparency around its vetting process in the coming weeks.

The source said Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) has also discussed a feature that would give users the ability to delete unwanted replies to their tweets. However, a Twitter spokesman said this function is not on any short- or long-term roadmap.

Twitter has always had the challenge of moderating its platform but not impeding free speech, which is the DNA of the platform.

So it will be interesting to see where they go with this new initiative to combat harassment. We will share more with you as we learn more.

Source : CNN Tech


About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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