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Twitter Steps Up to Halt Harassment

Twitter have taken a decisive step towards addressing concerns surrounding harassment on the platform by adding a new tool that will allow users to report multiple cases of abuse en masse. The social network believe that the changes will help give context surrounding the extent of a case of abuse and, as such, reduce the amount of time it takes for action to be taken.

On Monday 25th April, Twitter announced via their blog that they had begun enacting new measures to crack down on harassment and behaviour that goes against their rules. From now on users will be able to submit multiple tweets as evidence of abusive behaviour in order to support their case and encourage sufficient, timely action. Until now users had been required to report instances of harassment on a tweet-by-tweet basis that lacked any sort of context for the network’s security team.

The network has come under criticism in the past for the duration of time it has taken to sufficiently respond to users requests for intervention in cases of abuse. A significant example of this is the case of Scaachi Koul, editor and write for BuzzGeed Canada, who was forced to close her account after being faced with a barrage of harassment and abuse including death threats, leading her to deduce that the network remained “broken for women”.

The new update hopes to tackle this by giving better context on a case-by-case basis. Twitter have also suggested that this is just the beginning of a selection of new improvements designed to give users greater control over their experiences. Safety engineer Hao Tang said this:

            “Safety continues to be a top priority at Twitter. We have more improvements coming that will give you even more control over your experience and look forward to sharing those updates soon… We’re beginning to roll out this change on iOS, Android, and on, and expect all users worldwide to get access to the feature in the coming weeks.”

It will be interesting to see how sufficient new initiatives by Twitter are in tackling cases of abuse. Clearly this is yet another attempt to limit users leaving the network. At the end of last year it became clearly evident that Twitter’s growth was halting; when the company reported its Q4 earnings in February stock had dropped around 12 percent, due to its dwindling user base.

Regardless of whether or not it will be successful in addressing the issue of users leaving because of abuse, it is undoubtedly a very important update in the more widespread fight to stop harassment across social media.

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