Twitter Looking To Release Keyword Filter To Shield Users From Online Abuse: Would It Be Effective?


Twitter is currently developing a keyword-based filter that will block certain posts from appearing on a user's network, according to a Bloomberg report.

The tool will give users a more effective way of protecting themselves from offensive tweets and online abuse, according to Bloomberg's sources. Keywords such as racial slurs and swear words, for example, can be screened out from the social network.

The people, who wished to remain anonymous because the information has not yet been made public, said that Twitter has been discussing the initiative for around a year.

The tool seems to be very similar to a feature that was rolled out by Instagram earlier this month. The Instagram filter gives users the ability to manually ban certain words from appearing in the comments other users post on their accounts. If a comment contains the banned word, the app will hide the post from the user. However, the tool is currently only available to high-profile users and profiles owned by businesses.

For the tool being developed for Twitter, it could eventually be tuned to filter out any kind of content, the sources said. For example, if a user does not want to see a certain hashtag from appearing on his or her feed, they can choose to use the tool to block that term.

The introduction of a similar feature to Twitter comes at a time when cyberbullying is a prominent issue on the platform, as the service simply allows any user to say anything to any other user. The incidents, coupled with the perceived inaction by Twitter in fighting online harassment on its network, have led to several high-profile users exiting or temporarily taking a break from the platform, such as Fifth Harmony's Normani Kordei, Ghostbusters star and Saturday Night Live comedian Leslie Jones and New York Times editor Jon Weisman.

The so-called hands off approach being used by Twitter for the problem relies on its users to flag cases of abuse, with the complaints being forwarded to a team that studies the reports. Recently, though, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has pushed for the company to make the problem a primary concern, with the platform now taking a hard stance against online harassment.

Twitter just recently launched a quality filter that will detect and block low quality tweets, including those that are abusive against other users.

The keyword-based filter discussed in the Bloomberg report could be a good thing for Twitter once it is released, but how much it could change the experience for users is still unknown. Users might be able to get around the filters by using tricks such as replacing certain letters with numbers, but the tool will have the potential to make Twitter a safer place against online harassment.

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