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Twitter releases new anti-harassment tools, still has a long way to go

In a viral post last year, Anil Dash laid out suggestions on how to save Twitter. Near the top of the list? Stopping abuse:

This is one of the rare areas where you shouldn’t just show, you should tell: Explain loudly and clearly that you don’t want organized mobs of attackers on your site. Make sure features like quoting tweets aren’t being abused by people who set others up as targets. Fighting these large-scale attacks matters even more than banning individual bad actors. Harassment mobs like the alt-right already think you’re censoring them, so you might as well make their dreams come true.

Not too long ago, one of Twitter’s top engineers promised more anti-harassment features were coming, and soon:

Today, we have the first glimpse of what these might be. In a new blog post, Twitter identifies three features they’re rolling out:

  • Stopping the creation of new abusive accounts – Shutting down a troll’s account used to be a largely meaningless act; they could just create a new one. Now Twitter is saying they’re finding a way to prevent users from doing that.
  • Introducing safer search results – It sounds like results will exclude content from profiles that have been blocked and muted. But will it algorithmically exclude similar content?
  • Collapsing potentially abusive or low-quality tweets – You now have the ability to collapse these in-feed and not see them.

Twitter says they’ll be unrolling new features in the days/months to come and this is definitely a good sign. But there are still some extremely basic things you should be able to do (or not do) that I think would go a long way towards preventing harassment, such as:

  • Preventing users from following you if their account is less than X days/months old.
  • Preventing users from following you if they have less than X followers
  • Preventing users from tagging you or quoting a tweet even after they’ve been blocked. Often a troll who’s been blocked will try to incite their own friends/followers to attack you.

Those are just things would like to have happen. Last year Randi Lee Harper put together a pretty comprehensive list of suggestions as well. I hope Twitter keeps shipping this stuff, and quickly.