New Twitter feature make it easier to avoid trolls

You don’t have to be following too many accounts on Twitter for it to become overwhelming; there is an incredible amount of data created every minute.

To make things more manageable, lists make it possible to organise content into different categories so it can be quickly filtered. Today Twitter announces an extension of the lists concept that can be used to tackle spam and trolling.

It is now possible to not only create lists of accounts you would like to block (so you are invisible to them), but also share these block list with others. It's a technique that has already been implemented by some third party Twitter clients, but it is now official supported. Privacy and abuse have long been issues for Twitter, and this is just the latest move to try to tackle the problem.

Working in a similar way to malware and ad-blocking blacklists, shareable block lists finally present Twitter users with a quick and easy way to block interactions from large numbers of troublesome accounts in one fell swoop. To begin with, users are being invited to start creating and sharing their own lists, but Twitter has not indicated whether it will also release block lists of its own that could be used to filter content.

Introducing the new feature in a blog post, Xiaoyun Zhang, engineer for user safety at Twitter, said:

"This new, advanced feature makes blocking multiple accounts easy, fast and community driven. Mute and block are tools to help you control your Twitter experience. While many users find them useful, we also recognize that some users - those who experience high volumes of unwanted interactions on Twitter - need more sophisticated tools.

If you already have a list of blocked accounts, this can be easily exported ready for sharing. The Twitter help center explains how to go about sharing, and the import process is quick and simple.

With a checkered history surrounding trolling and abuse, this could just be the solution Twitter has been looking for that will help to clean up its reputation.

But the company has not made it clear if block lists will be policed - there is clearly potential for the feature to be abused so that legitimate accounts are blocked alongside the less desirable ones. It's early days, and time will be the true test here.

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