Up until now, Twitter hasn’t offered specific tools to combat online abuse and harassment to those being targeted. In an interview with the Washington Post, Del Harvey, Twitter vice president of trust and safety notes, “We’ve heard from users that this [notifications] is an area where people don’t feel as though they have as much control on Twitter. You’re not searching for this content, but it’s still something that’s coming in to your Twitter experience.”
The addition of a mute button allows users to filter out whole accounts, making them vanish from feeds entirely. A unique challenge to Twitter is users’ ability to freely tag other users without first getting their permission, displaying those tweets to a user that did not ask for them. This update will allow users to completely wipe out any content from a harassing user. Accounts never know if you mute them; they are still able to follow you, but you don’t see any of their actions.
The new feature also allows keyword-based muting: the ability to block offensive words, hashtags and emojis that users don’t wish to see in their feeds. Simply go into settings, notifications, then “Mute specific words from your notifications.” From here, add the words that you don’t wish to see, hit save, then any content containing those words will disappear from your feed.
Mute a conversation: Say bye-bye to those long threads of replies (where your name is mentioned in every one) by simply tapping the ellipsis (three dots) or the down arrow on the mobile app, and selecting “mute this conversation.” Your handle still remains in the replies and the content remains on your timeline, but all of those pesky notifications cease. Now there’s a win.
Users have reported a lack of movement on Twitter’s part after notifying them of harassing accounts, and in response, Twitter has updated their “hateful conduct policy.” This gives users a more “direct way to report this type of conduct for yourself, or for others, whenever you see it happening. 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.”
Harvey leaves off with “I’m definitely not saying that we’re never going to get it wrong again, or that everything is fixed. We will still get it wrong. But we’ll take those instances and use them to real-time course-correct.” All in all, Twitter is moving forward in the fight against online bullying by creating a more custom interface where users have more control.