Twitter Retaliating Against Harassment


Twitter is retaliating against harassment of users from cyber-bullies. The social media site has been making a few changes to the social networking platform. As long as Twitter has been around, users have been accustomed to only having 140 character limit space to tweet updates to users. However, is 140 characters enough to begin harassment? Twitter has freshened the company’s new tool, Block Together. The tool will now allow a downloadable list of blocked users in an Excel CSV format accessible from one account, which will be able to allow users to upload that list to another account to keep those unwanted users from harassing other accounts. The option is also flexible in blocking multiple accounts you share within the community instead of blocking a user one at a time, everyone who is on a blocked list will remain blocked once imported, but users can unblock accounts manually.

However, users are advised to be aware of the subscription list they share using this static tool. Once a user subscribes to someone else’s list, the user will receive updates from that person’s list in the timeline. This means that if a block list is created and a new person is added, that user will be blocked from every subscriber of that list. To view an updated list of blocked users within a community, users must ask for the list directly from the person who created the list. Having the option to share list isn’t accessible within the tool, which appears to be Twitter’s first step in retaliating against harassments of other users.  It is a tool which can be helpful for certain online communities experiencing issues with a user who continues to cyber-bully other users within the group. Twitter provides an FAQ’s help list community if users need help in adjusting block list settings, or how to export.

The company also made changes to its violent threats policy in April. The policy also came along with a new filter that would scan through threatening messages and block them before intended users get the opportunity to read them. Safety Engineer Xiaoyun Zhang quotes, “Twitter’s not done yet.” It means that users will be seeing additional improvements very soon. Twitter has also made proactive moves on expanding the character limit of direct messages (DM’s) from 140 characters to 10,000 characters beginning July 1.

The Block Together tool will become a huge resource in decreasing threatening messages or cyber bullying against users. Tweets will remain the same character count, but a larger character limit for message gives abusive users more room to provoke violence in a message, allowing the tool Block Together to be put to good use for other users. The company will continue to make improvements on increasing the safety of user accounts. Regarding Twitter’s struggle with harassment and cyberbullying in the past, CEO Dick Costolo said, “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.” Costolo continued, “There is no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front.” Users will be pleased to know Twitter’s aggressive push they are making to finally control the use of harassment of users with the new Block Together tool. Updating their policies against harassment is a good way to enforce certain accounts who threaten or harass will result into a blocked or a suspended account. The policy seems to be very clear in the rules of abusive or harmful behavior.

Auto-play AD videos will also be a new feature in the recent updates. Ads will silently play on a user’s timeline automatically, but users have the option to click the video and play the advertisement in full screen with audio sound. Making these new improvements in social media and retaliating against harassment is a positive direction for ensuring the safety of users online using the platform.

By Kayla Hernandez
Edited by Ankur Sinha
EFF.ORG: Twitter Gives Users A New Tool To Fight Harassment
EFF.ORG: Abuse and Harassment: What Could Twitter Do? The Garing Hole in Twitter’s New Shared Blocking Feature Twitter: Doing Away With 140-Character Limit For DM’s

Photo Courtesy by Keiyac’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License

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