Caitlin Flynn
March 02, 2017 10:56 am

As most users of the platform know, Twitter has a massive downside — cruel, relentless trolling by strangers who enthusiastically curse at, demean, and threaten us. If you’ve ever cringed when you log on to see those awful notifications, you’ll be relieved to hear Twitter’s new plan to fight back against abusive accounts.

On March 1st, Twitter announced it will use algorithms in order to identify and restrict accounts that engage in “abusive behavior” towards other users by “repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers.”

This new method is more thorough than many expected because it uses the relationships between users to help determine and stop abuse.

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Trolls often create multiple accounts specifically to harass other users — but, under the new policy, they can be forced to verify a phone number or email address associated with the account.

Twitter users will also have the option to filter out notifications that come from accounts that don’t have a profile photo and don’t have a verified email address or phone number. (BRB — updating our settings right now.)

Twitter’s vice president of engineering, Ed Ho, acknowledges the new plan isn’t perfect or foolproof, but the company is committed to combatting online abuse, and it will continue to make improvements.

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Users can also decide how long they want to mute accounts, conversations, and keywords. These features have been in place for “verified users” for quite some time, but they’ll certainly prove useful for us non-verified folks who find ourselves targeted by trolls because of our opinions, beliefs, and political views.

If you’ve ever reported abuse to Twitter and felt frustrated by an inadequate response, that’s being improved as well — you’ll receive pings when Twitter receives the harassment report and when they make a decision about what action will be taken.

There’s a lot to love about Twitter, but dealing with trolls every time you express an opinion is definitely not one of them. Although online trolling will always be an unfortunate reality, it’s encouraging that Twitter is taking steps to alleviate the problem and make the site a safer, kinder space for its users.

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