As Facebook was making public its new bereavement leave policy, Twitter was also making an important announcement. The Tuesday announcement has nothing to do with its employees but rather aims at protecting its users from abuse and harassment. The tech giant said that would stop banned users from creating new accounts using its new “safe search” tool.
The site has had to contend with criticism, most of the critics arguing that it ignores hate and abuse ever since it was founded close to a decade ago.
Through a blog post, Twitter’s engineering chief Ed Ho said that they are developing a tool that would be used to identify users permanently suspended and then block them from creating new accounts. This will significantly fight against accounts solely created for abuse purpose, a persistent Twitter problem.
If you turn on the safe search feature, all the abusive tweets are blocked from your search results. You can still see the tweets if you want to but they will not be part of the search results cluster.
Ho said that the abusive tweets “will still be accessible to those who seek them out” but Twitter will collapse them, just like it does with the duplicate tweets or automated content.
Many may wonder why Twitter has decided not to delete the abusive tweets but instead chose to collapse them. Well, the firm says that it is sticking to its long-term policy of allowing freedom of speech.
Twitter has from time to time updated its abuse and harassment policies but it’s never clear when it will act. There are times the Tech giant warns users on the need to stay clear of abuses including deleting some tweets.
These new changes are in line with Twitter’s recent determination to improve the site. In November last year, it released a tool that users can use to mark tweets as hateful. It also made adjustments to its mute tool. The most recent addition was rolled out last week – a reporting tool which people experiencing harassment can use.
But that is not enough, says Jennifer Grygiel, an assistant professor of communications at Syracuse University. According to her, Twiiter should employ more humans to help fix the problem instead of heavily relying on its users to root out and report abuse.