Less than three weeks after Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admitted in an internal memo that the company "sucks" at dealing with abuse—and two months after the company made a first round of sweeping changes to address that deficiency— Twitter has taken even more aggressive steps toward dealing with abuse on its platform.
The new features, which should be rolled out to all users within the next few weeks, will allow bystanders, not just victims, to report doxxing and impersonation. They will also change the reporting process for these kinds of abuse—streamlining a previously clunky, mobile-unfriendly web form— and will require those found to have engaged in abuse to jump through more hoops to get their accounts reinstated. These are an expansion of the features Twitter released in December intended to deal with direct abuse.
The changes to the reporting mechanism are crucial, insofar as they show Twitter's continuing effort to shift the burden off of those being abused and onto those doing abusing. As Twitter CEO Dick Costolo explained to BuzzFeed News earlier this month, "It has to be the case that it's more expensive to be an abuser on the platform than to be [abused] … What I mean by that, today if you are the recipient of abuse or harassment you have to go through a reporting process that is difficult. Importantly, the onus is on you as the abused to report. If an account gets suspended they just pop up again somewhere else and then you have to go through that whole process again. It has to be the case that the economics of that whole situation are completely reversed." If you're receiving hundreds of harassing messages an hour, or having personal information such as home addresses released to the public, as some of GamerGate's biggest targets were, having to go through an arduous reporting process for each threat isn't just an annoyance or an indignity—it's a legitimate and grave safety concern.
Perhaps most important of all, this doesn't appear to be just talk: According to the blog post announcing today's changes, Twitter has tripled the size of the support team focused on handling abuse reports. That shows a significant and new investment of resources into a problem that's dogged Twitter since its inception.
"These investments in tools and people allow us to handle more reports of abuse with greater efficiency," reads the post. "So while we review many more reports than ever before, we've been able to significantly reduce the average response time to a fraction of what it was, and we see this number continuing to drop."