Twitter to identify abuse, allow users to mute keywords to boost safety

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

Twitter on Wednesday said it was ramping up efforts to curb abuse on the social media site by actively limiting functionality for accounts engaging in abusive behaviour even if the tweets haven’t been reported to the company.

The San Francisco-based company said it could act to allow only an account’s followers to see their tweets if for instance “an account is repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers or engaging in patterns of abusive behavior that is in violation of the Twitter Rules”.

“We aim to only act on accounts when we’re confident, based on our algorithms, that their behavior is abusive,” Ed Ho, vice president of engineering, said. “Since these tools are new we will sometimes make mistakes, but know that we are actively working to improve and iterate on them everyday.”

The company also said it was giving its users more control over what they see from certain accounts like those without a profile photo, unverified email addresses or phone numbers. And that users could mute certain keywords, phrases, or entire conversations from their notifications.

The moves come amid concerns that hate speech including cyberbullying, racism and misogyny are pushing some people to leave the social media platform known for its 140-character messages. Jack Dorsey’s company had rolled out features to ramp up safety late last year after it came under heavy scrutiny when Saturday Night Live comedian and Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones was targeted by users, dubbed ‘trolls’, and briefly left the service last year.

Twitter shares, which are down nearly 4 per cent so far this year, were 0.5 per cent lower in early trading.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.