Twitter can be a powerful mode of sharing information quickly, but far too often it’s been a platform for spreading of hateful, violent rhetoric, all in neatly packaged 140-character snippets. On Tuesday, Twitter launched new tools for fighting online abuse. The ability to report harassment on Twitter is nothing new, but the new features should (hopefully) make reporting more effective and efficient.
In a blog posted Tuesday, Twitter acknowledged that harassment is a major problem for the platform. “The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment we’ve seen across the Internet has risen sharply over the past few years,” the company remarked. “These behaviors inhibit people from participating on Twitter, or anywhere. Abusive conduct removes the chance to see and share all perspectives around an issue, which we believe is critical to moving us all forward.”
In an attempt to combat such abuse, Twitter has added an option to its reporting mechanism that lets people flag tweets specifically as “direct[ing] hate against a race, religion, gender, or orientation.” Anyone can report tweets for hateful conduct, so, thankfully, the burden isn’t entirely on the targets of abuse to report inappropriate behavior.
Reporting harassment on Twitter is simple. Here’s how you do it:
If you encounter a hateful tweet, tap on the “More” option (the three little dots) on the bottom of the tweet.
Hit “Report Tweet” and report the abuse.
On the dropdown menu, select “Report Tweet”...
...And then select “It’s abusive or harmful.” Tap “Next.”
Identify the type of abuse.
You’ll see a menu with a list of different descriptors of the abuse, from “Threatening violence or physical harm” to “It's disrespectful or offensive.” Select the one that most closely describes your situation, and tap “Next.” You may be asked to flag additional tweets as context for the report.
And you’re done!
In addition to the improved reporting functions, Twitter has also expanded its “Mute” option, so that users can mute certain keywords, phrases, and entire conversations (You can see how to do that here.) That doesn’t mean that the harassment isn’t happening, but it at least means you don’t have to see it flooding your feed all the time.
Of course, changing the mechanism for reporting abuse won’t help anything unless the staff responding to reports has the resources to respond effectively. In today’s blog post, Twitter says, “[W]e’ve retrained all of our support teams on our policies, including special sessions on cultural and historical contextualization of hateful conduct, and implemented an ongoing refresher program.” Hopefully the improved tools on the reporting side and the revamp on the enforcement side will add up to a more efficient, fast, and consistent response to harassment and bullying on Twitter.
Images: Lumina/Stocksy; Lara Rutherford-Morrison (4)