Twitter is trying to make it easier for victims and witnesses of online harassment to report it.
The short messaging service said Tuesday that the new tools will roll out to users over the coming weeks. It’s available now for a small group of Twitter’s 284 million members. Among other changes, the updates streamline the process for reporting abuse, especially on mobile devices.
“In our continuing effort to make your Twitter experience safer, we’re enhancing our in-product harassment reporting and making improvements to ‘block,'” wrote Shreyas Doshi, director of product management and user safety, in a blog.
“Everything that happens in the world, happens on Twitter – to the tune of more than 500 million Tweets every day. That can sometimes include content that violates our rules around harassment and abuse and we want to make it easier to report such content. So, we’re improving the reporting process to make it much more mobile-friendly, require less initial information, and, overall, make it simpler to flag Tweets and accounts for review. These enhancements similarly improve the reporting process for those who observe abuse but aren’t receiving it directly. And to enable faster response times, we’ve made the first of several behind-the-scenes improvements to the tools and processes that help us review reported Tweets and accounts.”
Twitter says it also made “behind-the-scenes improvements” that speed up response times to reported tweets and accounts.
“As for the changes to block, the new blocked accounts page — which you can get to from the settings menu on Twitter.com — shows you the accounts you’ve blocked. We’ll be adding more controls and features to this page in the coming months. Additionally, accounts that you’ve blocked won’t be able to view your profile,” Doshi explained.
Harassment and bullying on Twitter is not new. Recently, an online campaign dubbed “GamerGate” has led to the harassment of women in the video game industry for criticizing the lack of diversity and how women are portrayed in gaming.
“We are nowhere near being done making changes in this area,” Doshi added. “In the coming months, you can expect to see additional user controls, further improvements to reporting and new enforcement procedures for abusive accounts.”
That said, it is unlikely that the improvements will put an end to harassment on Twitter. While users can block accounts, and Twitter can delete them, there is nothing stopping bullies from setting up new accounts under different names.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly three-quarters of American adults who use the Internet have witnessed online harassment. Forty percent have experienced it themselves. The types of harassment ranged from name-calling to physical threats, sexual harassment and stalking. Half of those who were harassed said they didn’t know the person who had most recently attacked them.