Online harassment on Twitter has gotten so bad that some users opt to never read their mentions, while others are driven to log off the platform forever.
Now, Twitter is addressing the problem with a new anti-harassment tool, according to Bloomberg. Twitter is developing a feature that would allow users to filter out certain keywords from their timeline and mentions. This anti-harassment feature, which has been in the works for about a year, will give users the power to block certain offensive words and slurs.
This new tool is Twitter’s latest attempt to curb online harassment on its platform. Previously, Twitter made it easier for people to report a string of offensive Tweets, but this feature is the most control the company has ever given its users in the fight against harassment. In addition, the tool could expand to become a general moderation tool, according to Bloomberg, giving users the power to block out entire hashtags, not necessarily because they find them offensive.
Earlier this summer, Instagram gave its high-profile users and businesses a similar tool for filtering out certain keywords in their comments. Bloomberg notes, however, that Instagram’s moderation tool hasn’t been all-catching. Trolls have outsmarted it sometimes by misspelling certain slurs.
Why this matters: Online harassment on Twitter seems to be at an all-time high, giving the platform an unflattering reputation as a hub for haters and trolls. BuzzFeed called Twitter a “honeypot for assholes” because of how it prioritized free speech, even when it’s hateful.
NBC: remove all tweets with our olympics footage— Eldge (@Sickayduh) August 14, 2016
Twitter: of course
Girl: a guy is harassing me
Twitter: we don’t have the tools for that
And it’s had some real consequences for the company. Journalists and celebrities have quit Twitter after being the targets of online abuse, which is the last thing you’d want when your company is suffering from years of stagnant user growth. Furthermore, Twitter has been criticized for being quick to ban users who posted unauthorized Olympics GIFs, while failing to ban known trolls and offensive accounts.
According to Bloomberg, curbing this type of harassment has become a priority for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter is expected to unveil more initiatives later this year.