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Twitter considers new anti-abuse tools to give users more control over mentions – TechCrunch

Twitter is considering adding new features that could help users facing abusive situations on its platform due to unwanted attention stacking, such as when a tweet goes viral for some reason they don’t. ‘were not waiting and a full counter firehose the tweets are blown up.

Racist abuse also remains a major problem on the Twitter platform.

The social media giant says it is trying to provide users with more controls over the @mention feature to help people “control unwanted attention” as privacy engineer Dominic Camozzi puts it.

The problem is, Twitter’s notification system alerts a user when they’ve been directly identified in a tweet, drawing their attention to the content. It’s great if the tweet is cool or interesting. But if the content is abusive, it’s a shortcut to escalate hate cyberbullying.

Twitter is called “early concepts” for these latest anti-abuse ideas and encourages users to submit their comments when considering changes it might make.

Potential features he is considering include allowing users to “name” themselves – that is, removing their name from someone else’s tweet so that they are no longer tagged (and all gossip being around this one will not continue to appear in their mentions feed).

It also plans to make a no-mention action more powerful in cases where an account a user doesn’t follow mentions it – by providing a special notification to “highlight potentially unwanted situations.”

If the user then goes ahead and doesn’t mention themselves, Twitter is considering removing the ability for the tweet composer to re-tag them in the future – which appears to be a powerful tool. against strangers who abuse @mentions.

Twitter is also considering adding settings that would allow users to prevent certain accounts from mentioning them entirely. Which appears to have been very helpful when President Trump was on the platform (assuming the framework could be deployed against public figures).

Twitter also says it plans to add a switch that can be flipped to prevent nobody on the @ -ing you platform – for a period of one day; three days; or seven days. So basically a “peace and quiet” mode.

He says he wants to make changes in this area that can work together to help users by preventing “the situation from getting even worse” – for example providing users with notifications when they receive many mentions, combined with the ability to revise easily. the tweets in question and change their settings to protect yourself (for example by blocking all mentions for a day or more).

The known problem with armies of online trolls coordinating targeted attacks on Twitter users means that it may take disproportionate effort for the object of a hate stack to protect itself from the abuse of so many strangers.

Blocking abusive accounts individually or muting specific tweets does not work in cases where there may be hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts and tweets involved in the targeted abuse.

For now, it remains to be seen whether or not Twitter will move forward and implement the exact features it showcases through Camozzi’s thread.

A Twitter spokeswoman confirmed that the concepts are “a design mockup” and “still in the early stages of design and research.” But she added, “We are excited about the feedback from the community, even at this early stage. “

The company will need to determine whether the proposed features could introduce greater complications to the service. (Like, for example, what would happen to automatically scheduled tweets that include someone’s Twitter handle that then flips the ‘block all mentions’ setting; does this prevent the tweet from coming out entirely or does it? just tweet but without the person’s grip, potentially lacking in basic context?)

Nonetheless, these are small details and it is very encouraging that Twitter is looking for ways to extend the usefulness of the tools that users can use to protect themselves against abuse – i.e. beyond the anti-abuse features. -existing abuses, still quite brutal (such as blocking, muting and signaling a tweet).

Coordinated trolling attacks have, for years, been an unwanted “feature” of the Twitter platform, and the company has often been criticized for not doing enough to prevent harassment and abuse.

The simple fact that Twitter is still looking for ways to provide users with better tools to prevent hate piles – here in the middle of 2021 – is a tacit acknowledgment of its more general failure to eliminate attackers from its platform. Despite repeated calls for her to act.

A Google search for “* quits Twitter after abuse” returns numerous examples of high profile Twitter users leaving the platform after feeling unable to cope with waves of abuse – several this year alone ( including a number of footballers targeted by racist tweets).

Other examples date back to 2013, highlighting how Twitter has repeatedly failed to address its abuse issue, leaving users to suffer at the hands of trolls for more than a decade (or, well, quit it altogether. service).

A recent high-profile outing was model Chrissy Teigen – who was a longtime Twitter user, spending ten years on the platform – but who disconnected her account in March, writing in her latest tweets that she was “deeply. bruised “and that the platform” no longer serves me positively as it serves me negatively “.

A number of UK football players have also campaigned against racism on social media this year – organizing a boycott of services to step up pressure on companies like Twitter to deal with racist attackers.

While public figures who use social media are more likely to face higher levels of abusive online trolling than other types of users, this is an issue that is not limited to users with a profile. public. Racist abuse, for example, remains a general problem on Twitter. And the examples of famous users quitting for abuse that are visible through Google are certainly just the tip of the iceberg.

It goes without saying that it is terrible for the business of Twitter if very engaged users feel compelled to give up the service out of desperation.

The company knows it has a problem. As early as 2018, he said he was looking for ways to improve “conversational health” on his platform – as well as, more recently, to expand its policies and enforcement around hateful and abusive tweets.

It also added some strategic friction to try and get users to be more thoughtful and remove some of the heat from outrage cycles, such as encouraging users to read an article before retweeting it directly.

Perhaps most notably, he has banned some high-level abusers from his service – including, well, the President troll Trump himself earlier this year.

A number of other notorious trolls have also been launched over the years, although usually only after Twitter allowed them to continue to coordinate the abuse of others through its service, failing to swiftly and vigorously enforce its policies against. hateful behavior – letting the trolls escape. seeing how far they could push their luck – to the last one.

By failing to properly control the abuse of its platform for so long, Twitter has created a toxic legacy of its own mismanagement – a legacy that continues to attract unwanted attention from high-profile users who could otherwise be key ambassadors for its service. .

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