Twitter has set out a three-step plan for tackling trolls as the firm seeks to regain control of a situation that it has struggled to deal with in the past.
Twitter said in a blog post that, while it believes the site is a great platform because it gives everyone a voice, there has been a clear trend of “people taking advantage of that openness and using Twitter to be abusive to others”.
The company admits that dealing with this has proved hard: “Because Twitter happens in public and in real time, we've had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct.”
Twitter said it “took a step back to reset and take a new approach, find and focus on the most critical needs, and rapidly improve”.
To this end, the firm has set up three new focus areas: controls, reporting and enforcement.
The controls element relates to expanding the mute capability of Twitter so that users can now mute phrases or key words, or even entire conversations, to avoid having to see abusive content.
“This is a feature we've heard many of you ask for, and we're going to keep listening to make it better and more comprehensive over time,” the firm said.
The feature is being rolled out over time to iOS, Android and web clients for Twitter, and can be accessed via the settings menu and then notifications and the relevant mute option.
Reporting has also been improved, Twitter claimed, by making it easier to report conduct that breaches its hateful conduct policy, and easier for the firm to processes these claims.
“This will improve our ability to process these reports, which helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps to strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter,” the post explained.
Lastly, Twitter said that support teams have undergone major retraining on what constitutes hateful conduct to make the firm better at recognising when someone has overstepped the boundaries of what the site deems acceptable.
“We've also improved our internal tools and systems in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it's reported to us. Our goal is a faster and more transparent process,” Twitter said.
Twitter has been under pressure for some time to improve its reporting processes and do more to clamp down on hate speech on the site, as many people are alienated by the hostility they receive.
The firm has also faced criticism for not reacting strongly enough to problems when they are reported, leaving many dismayed when clearly hateful content does not result in a ban against those who write it.
Google and Facebook have promised to do more to clamp down on fake news being promoted through their networks, and it appears that tech firms may finally be waking up to just how important a role they play in wider society and the need to take a stand against certain types of content.
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