Commentary

Twitter Aims To Give Users More Control

Twitter users can now mute specific words from their timelines like, say, oh, I don’t know… Trump.

Twitter actually debuted its the mute feature, last November, at which point it began letting users remove certain keywords, phrases, and entire conversations from their notifications.

“Now, you’ll be able to mute from your home timeline, and you can decide how long this content is muted,” Ed Ho, VP of engineering at Twitter, notes in a new blog post.

Ho said he and his team are also trying to identify accounts as they’re engaging in abusive behavior, even if this behavior hasn’t been reported by another user.

If and when offenders are identified, Twitter is actively limiting certain account functionalities for a set amount of time, such as allowing only their followers to see their tweets.

“For example, this change could come into effect if an account is repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers or engaging in patterns of abusive behavior that is in violation of the Twitter Rules,” Ho explained.

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That said, “We aim to only act on accounts when we’re confident, based on our algorithms, that their behavior is abusive,” Ho noted.

These changes are part of a broader effort by the struggling social network to gives users more control of their experience, weed out trolls, and anything they consider offensive.

Last month, the tech giant promised to curb the creation of new abusive accounts, give preference to “safer” search results and crack down on “abusive” tweets.

While well-intentioned, Twitter’s various efforts to sanitize its network have presented their own problems.  

For instance, after suspending the accounts of several prominent members of the “alt-right,” the social giant mistakenly ran an ad sponsored by a white supremacist group this week.

Despite efforts to curb their activity, hatemongers have already scared away some of Twitter’s most influential users.

Last summer, New York Times editor Jon Weisman gave up on the network, given its failure to stem the tide of anti-Semitism being tweeted in his direction.

More recently, Twitter permanently suspended the account of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, but not before he directed a number of racist and demeaning tweets in the direction of “Saturday Night Live” star Leslie Jones.

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