Twitter Tweaks User Policy To Curb Online Abuse — Will It Work?


Twitter has once again announced an initiative to try and curb online abuse on its website, this time unveiling a filter that will essentially prevent users from seeing some threatening messages.

Twitter has long had a problem with online abuse, and even the CEO has made comments about the issue in a memo that was leaked.

"I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it," said Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. "I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing."

The new setting will essentially detect abusive tweets by analyzing tweets that have previously been flagged by the user. These tweets will not show up in the user's account. Those tweets will still exist on Twitter, but the user simply won't see them.

While Twitter has had a long history with online abuse, it has also had a history of failing to deal with that abuse. The new change that the social media website has made begs the question: Is Twitter dealing with the problem, or is it just hiding it? Well, obviously the company is hiding it. However, in hiding it, it is likely that those who participate in abuse on Twitter will not feel as inclined to continue doing so.

Twitter has also tweaked its violent threats policy, which was previously limited to threats against a single user, but now includes language that encompasses a wider range of threats.

"We are updating our violent threats policy so that the prohibition is not limited to 'direct, specific threats of violence against others' but now extends to 'threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.' Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior. The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse," said the company in a blog post.

While this change certainly doesn't mean that Twitter will be able to go after more users who participate in online abuse, it certainly gives the company more room to do so. Of course, it remains to be seen how Twitter will use this new power.

The news comes shortly after Twitter began allowing users to send and receive messages to and from any other Twitter user. Of course, the new feature is in a setting and users do not have to participate in the new feature.

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