New Twitter Features Aim to Stop Harassment


Twitter’s abuse problems are notorious. Its reputation as a haven for people who want to use the platform to harass others is so bad that British members of parliament proposed fining the platform (and others) almost $2.5 million if it doesn’t take reasonable measures to curb the kind of misuse that has played a major role in events like GamerGate and the 2016 election. Now, the tech company is finally taking action against its hordes of trolls.

Today, February 7, Twitter announced changes that would make it easier to weed out problematic accounts and tweets, both from individual timelines and the site as a whole. First, it will make it harder for users who have been banned for abusive behavior to create new accounts. However, Twitter doesn’t say how exactly that will work. The company’s statement just says it is "taking steps to identify people who have been permanently suspended and stop them from creating new accounts." Presumably, this could include blocking particular emails or IP addresses from being used to create a new account, but it’s not clear.

The company is also launching a function called "safe search" that removes tweets from accounts you’ve muted or blocked and tweets with "potentially sensitive content." If you don’t mind seeing those tweets, you can turn off the function.


Third, potentially abusive tweets will be collapsed in reply threads (the animation above shows what this looks like). The idea is that you’ll only see the most relevant replies unless you choose to expand all of them, though again, Twitter didn't reveal the criteria they'll use to determine whether a reply is "low-quality."

Twitter’s trolls probably aren’t going to disappear because of these few new functions, but at least you can expect to see fewer hateful, anonymous accounts in your mentions.