Twitter is today making some changes to combat abuse and threats on its platform – a matter the company has traditionally taken some heat for, and has since taken steps towards remedying.
First off, it is changing up its policy on violent threats to cover a broader set of circumstances. A blog post by the company says:
We are updating our violent threats policy so that the prohibition is not limited to “direct, specific threats of violence against others” but now extends to “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.” Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behavior.
It intends to better enforce these policies too. For instance, its customer support teams now have the power to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time.
This should provide some extra leverage against harmful users, as well as speed up the process to stop further bad behavior – particularly if multiple culprits are involved.
When an account is locked, the owner will have to wait the specified amount of time before he or she can attempt to unlock it. The person may also be required to verify their phone number, and delete the harmful tweet they were punished for.
Twitter may soon begin to limit the reach of abusive tweets in the first place. An algorithm is being trialed that looks for a wide range of abuse indicators, such as the age of the account and how similar a tweet may be to previously flagged ones.
While this wouldn’t stop you from finding content you’re explicitly looking for, the company says it helps limit the potential harm of abusive content.
Twitter says it will monitor how these changes affect harmful actions on the platform, and continue to make changes as necessary. It won’t be able to weed out all miscreants of course, but it’s a step in the right direction.