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Twitter Will Lock Trolls Out Of Accounts In New Threats To Prevent Abuse

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Twitter has come up with a new plan to battle trolls. The social media site announced policy changes on Tuesday that threaten to lock trolls out from accessing their accounts in an attempt to further prevent abuse.

Twitter revealed it has updated its policy regarding violent threats to now also include "threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others." Previously, the policy only focused on "direct, specific threats of violence against others," which limited its ability to act against threatening behavior.

The social media site, which has cracked down on users who abuse the platform by flagging and deleting any harassment or abusive content that appears on the site, now added an enforcement option that will banish that troll from their account.

"We're introducing an additional enforcement option that gives our support team the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time," the company says in a blog post. "This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people."

It appears like the company will no longer stand for trolling, a common practice among some of its users. For example, journalist Caroline Criado-Perez complained to the company after she was sent violent rape threats over the course of a few days. The cyber abuse led to an online petition that asked the social network to take a firm stand and prevent further abuse.

"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo wrote in an internal memo that was leaked. "It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day."

And it appears like Costolo is making good on his promise. "We're going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them," he previously wrote to his employees.

Back in December, the company tried to battle its trolls by launching new tools on its app to report harassment or abusive behavior after the daughter of the late Robin Williams was sent both rape and death threats.

Twitter also announced as part of its plan to further prevent trolling and abuse a new "product feature to help us identify suspected abusive tweets and limit their reach." While it's not exactly clear how automated this new enforcement feature is, the company says it will take into account the age of the account and the similarity of a tweet in question to something flagged as abusive in the past.

The new policy comes a week after Twitter General Counsel Vitaya Gadde wrote an op-ed for Washington Post about how the company needs to do more to make sure free speech is accepted on the platform.

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Photo: Miha Filej | Flickr

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