Abuse has always been a problem on Twitter, and the toxicity of the platform has been a source of constant debate and accusation, roughly since its inception.
But Twitter has been working to address this. After years of seemingly limited action, in the last 12 months, Twitter has introduced a number of new control options, including response controls to limit unwanted commenters, warnings of potentially harmful and / or offensive responses, and a Security Mode thatallows users when their tweets get negative attention.
Together, these new features could have a big impact – and Twitter isn’t done yet. This week, Twitter reviewed several more new control options that could help users avoid the negative interactions and mental stress that can come with them, when your tweets become the focus of abuse.
First, Twitter is developing new ones Options ‘Filter’ and ‘Limit’, which, like Twitter notes, would be designed to help users retain potentially harmful content in their responses – and the people who create it.
As you can see here, the new option would allow you to automatically filter responses that contain potentially offensive remarks or from users who constantly tweet to you that you never deal with. You can also block these same accounts from replying to your tweets in the future.
But more importantly, the Filter option would also mean that all the answers you choose to hide won’t be visible to anyone in the app except the person who wrote them on Twitter, which is similar to Facebook’s ‘Hide’ option to post comments.
This is a significant change of approach. So far, Twitter has allowed users to hide content from their own view in the app, but others can still see it. Filter control would increase the power of individual users to completely hide such comments – which makes sense because they respond to your tweets. But you can also imagine that it could be misused by politicians or brands who want to rule out negative mentions.
This is probably a more important consideration on Twitter, where the nature of the real-time app calls for response and interaction, and in some cases challenges in what people say, especially around current topics or news-worthy topics. If people can then end that discussion, it could have its own potential impacts – but again, the original tweet would still be there for reference, and users could theoretically still quote the tweet whatever they want.
And indeed, with the response controls already present in the app, it’s probably not a big move, and it could also allow users to get rid of some trolls and creeps lurking in their responses, which could improve overall engagement in the app.
In addition, Twitter is also developing a new “Heads Up” alert notification, which would alert users to comment sections before they dive.
This could save you from mistakenly entering the swamp of toxicity and unknowingly becoming the focus of abuse. As you can see in the second screenshot, the query would also urge users to be more careful in the tweeting process.
I have no doubt that this would have a major impact on user behavior, but it could help to at least encourage further consideration in the process.
Twitter is also developing new ‘River Filters’, which are an extension of the existing ones keyword blocking tools, and would rely on Twitter’s automated detection systems to filter out potentially more offensive comments.
As you can see here, the option would include separate switches to automatically filter out hate speech, spam, and vulgarity, based on Twitter’s detection, providing another way to limit unwanted exposure in the app.
These seem to be useful additions, and although there are always concerns that people will use such tools basically as blinds to block everything they don’t want to deal with, which could limit useful discourse and important perspective if it gives people a better experience in the app, why couldn’t they do it?
Of course, the ideal would be an enlightened intelligent debate on all issues, where people remain civic and respected at all times. But this is Twitter and it will never happen. As such, providing more control options might be the best way forward, and it’s good to see that Twitter is taking additional steps to address these key elements.
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