Twitter Strengthens Mute Button To Combat Harassment

Still struggling to rein in user harassment, Twitter is giving its “mute” button greater powers.

“We’re enabling you to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations you don’t want to see notifications about,” the social giant notes in a new blog post.

Set to roll out in the coming days, Twitter said many users have been calling for just such a feature, though the company is well aware of its “hate” problem.

“The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment we’ve seen across the Internet has risen sharply over the past few years,” according to the company.

Twitter is also giving users a more direct way to report abuse, whether it’s being directed to them or others. On enforcement, the company said it recently retrained all of our support teams, including special sessions on cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct, and implemented an ongoing refresher program.

Twitter also recently improved its internal tools and systems in order to deal more effectively with reported abuse.

The company’s co-called “hateful conduct policy” prohibits specific conduct that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease.

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

Earlier this 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.

Trying to avoid similar problems, Instagram has taken several steps to discourage user harassment.

Microsoft also began refining some of its processes to make it easier for customers to report hate speech. As part of the effort, the Web giant launched a new dedicated Web form for reporting hate speech on its hosted consumer services.

Internally, Twitter has been struggling to come up with a viable solution to its troll problem with years.

Last year -- echoing earlier comments by then CEO Dick Costolo -- Vijaya Gadde, general counsel for Twitter, wrote in The Washington Post: “Even when we have recognized that harassment is taking place, our response times have been inexcusably slow and the substance of our responses too meager.”

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