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Twitter cracks down on abuse with severe new filter

Twitter has announced a crackdown on trolls and those who send abusive messages over the social network.

A new filter has come into play, meaning that the messages which are directed at a user will be scanned over and blanket filtered for the first time in the social network’s history, with any abusive material being censored. The filtered tweets in question won’t actually be deleted as such, and will still remain on Twitter – they just won’t be seen by the target.

Previously, you may recall that Twitter had moved to introduce an optional ‘quality filter’ to address online harassment, as we reported last month – and this filter is based on that system which was made available only to verified users. The main difference, the Guardian reports, is that the quality filter is far stricter than this new measure – mainly because the latter isn’t an option. The new filter is on for all users permanently; there’s no choice in the matter.

Twitter has long been seen as a haven for abuse, though, and CEO Dick Costolo admitted quite some time ago that the network wasn’t good enough at dealing with trolls and other unsavoury denizens of the net.

Shreyas Doshi, director of product management at Twitter, wrote in a blog post: “This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive.”

He added: “It will not affect your ability to see content that you’ve explicitly sought out, such as tweets from accounts you follow, but instead is designed to help us limit the potential harm of abusive content.”

Twitter is also introducing a couple of policy changes, and is updating its policy on violent threats so that it covers not only direct threats of violence to individuals, but also “threats of violence against others or promoting violence against others”.

The social network has also introduced the ability for support staff to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. Doshi said: “This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people.”

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