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Twitter Announces Tools That Seem Intended To Curb Harassment

The changes come one week after a BuzzFeed News investigation into Twitter's decadelong failure to stop abuse.

Posted on August 18, 2016, at 2:07 p.m. ET


Today, Twitter announced two product features that seem intended to help users handle abuse on the platform.

The features come one week after BuzzFeed News reported on Twitter's decadelong problem with harassment thanks to what company insiders past and present describe as inaction and organizational disarray.

In a company blog post, Twitter revealed it will begin rolling out a setting that will allow users to limit notifications on desktop and mobile to only the accounts they follow. Alongside this feature, the company is also introducing a quality filter. Here's how Twitter describes it:

The filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior. Turning it on filters lower-quality content, like duplicate Tweets or content that appears to be automated, from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience. It does not filter content from people you follow or accounts you’ve recently interacted with – and depending on your preferences, you can turn it on or off in your notifications settings.

Both of these features are similar to the quality filter and notifications settings that have been available to verified users for a while now. The update is an attempt to standardize the experience between verified and nonverified accounts.

While the quality filter seems to be designed to stop spammers and pop-up troll accounts, it is unclear how effective the filter will be at ending targeted harassment at an individual by non-spam actors. The features also only seem to address harassment by limiting what users will see in their feeds when they're logged on. The settings don’t appear to prevent someone from tweeting abusive things. As of now, there appear to be no changes to Twitter's abuse reporting system or any plans to address how Twitter responds to abuse.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.