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Policing social media users is never going to be a closed chapter. There is always going to be a new challenge or behaviour that threatens this. Twitter rightfully acknowledges that it is not enough to simply put resources into place but it is critical and even necessary to have a better way of responding to abuse reports.
To do this, Twitter is making two police changes, one related to prohibited content, and one about how it is enforces certain policy violations. The update to prohibited content will mean that the prohibition will now not be limited to direct, specific threats of violence against others but also extends to threats of violence against others or promoting violence against others.
Twitter admits that its previous policies were “unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behaviour”. The company feels that the updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.
The updates to how it will now enforce the policies is that it will have an enforcement option that gives its support team the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. Twitter says that it is equally important priority to identify and limit the incentives that enable and even encourage some users to engage in abuse.
“This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people,” Twitter said.
Twitter already requires users to delete content or verify their phone numbers if they are found to be offensive. It has also begun to test a product feature to help it identify suspected abusive Tweets and limit their reach.
“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,” Twitter explained.
Further explaining that this will not affect user’s ability to see the content they have sought out, such as tweets from accounts you follow, but rather it is designed to help Twitter limit the potential harm of abusive content.
It will be interesting to see how these changes become effective. Twitter said it will monitor how these changes discourage abuse and how it helps ensure the overall health of a platform that encourages everyone’s participation.
Image: Scott Beale