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Baby steps, Twitter.
The microblogging service’s latest UI improvement addresses one of the biggest complaints about abuse-reporting by making it simple for people to report harassment of a third party. Twitter also made some updates to its block function so that accounts you’ve blocked won’t be able to view your profile page. There is also a new “blocked accounts” page in your account settings where you’ll be able to see everyone you’ve blocked.
Twitter said it was also making changes to the mobile reporting process, which has long been even more cumbersome and frustrating to use than the web interface. The company now requires much less input from users who are trying to file complaints.
Twitter also promised that response times on harassment reports would decrease thanks to some tweaks on the backend that streamline the process of identifying and responding to threats.
All of these changes are rolling out to a small group of users today. They will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.
These changes were a long time coming. Harassment on Twitter is one of the biggest problems with the social network, and many people, especially women, have received rape and death threats, had their personal information exposed, and been forced off Twitter entirely.
Twitter promised to improve its harassment-reporting tools after Zelda Williams left the platform because of the gruesome tweets she received when her father, actor Robin Williams, died in August. Last month, the company partnered with the nonprofit Women, Action and the Media to figure out how to improve the reporting function.
In recent months, public harassment on Twitter has driven women from their homes, thanks to rape, death, and doxing threats from Gamergate supporters. Newsweek’s analysis of the tweets these women received only underscores how vital it is that Twitter improve its safety features.
Though these changes are a strong first step, Twitter knows it cannot stop here. The company plans to roll out more safety features in the future, and it says it is continuing to work with partners and listen to feedback from users in order to combat abuse.
Photo by Garrett Heath/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Selena Larson is a technology reporter based in San Francisco who writes about the intersection of technology and culture. Her work explores new technologies and the way they impact industries, human behavior, and security and privacy. Since leaving the Daily Dot, she's reported for CNN Money and done technical writing for cybersecurity firm Dragos.