Twitter continues trying to improve a situation that has drawn criticism from activists, a problem Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said his company "sucks" at solving. Costolo vowed to step up Twitter's efforts to combat online abuse and cyber bullying, and the latest development in that war entails the sharing of blocked lists.
Twitter unleashed the ability to share lists of blocked users so that it would make it easier for people to avoid known trolls and abusers. Instead of encountering a troll and dealing with his or her digital disses for a while, users can import each others' lists of undesirable accounts and block them before the flaming begins, according to a blog post from Xiaoyun Zhang, a Twitter engineer.
"You can now export and share your block lists with people in your community facing similar issues or import another user's list into your own account and block multiple accounts all at once, instead of blocking them individually," said Zhang. "We also hope these advanced blocking tools will prove useful to the developer community to further improve users' experience."
Before enabling the sharing of lists of blocked accounts, Twitter also amped up its report tool so that it's now easier to use in reporting online harassment to law enforcement agencies. The company also issued a reminder, explaining the Block and Mute features the social network offers.
The mute feature enables Twitter users to shut up accounts that are annoying, but not TOO annoying: the whiners, weirdos, spoilers, spoiled and so on. The Block feature is a bit more potent.
"If an account is being creepy or obnoxious, use 'Block,'" stated Twitter. "When you block an account, you won't be able to see its tweets. And it will not be able to follow you or see you on Twitter. Block fully tunes it out, even if it continues to mention you."
If blocking a user isn't enough to bring peace of mind, there's always Twitter's native report tool and the Women, Action and the Media's reporting form.
Women, Action and the Media, a non-profit group, stepped up to clean up Twitter when the social network's trouble with trolls broke out into a national debate. Earlier this year, Costolo, in what was allegedly a leaked memo, admitted his company's shortcomings in squashing online harassment.
"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo stated in an internal memo. "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."