The World Wide Web can sometimes feel like the Wild, Wild West, but luckily Twitter is taking one extra step to prevent Internet trolls from taking over. A new feature allows verified Twitter users to stop online abuse by filtering out messages that contain "threats, offensive or abusive language, duplicate content, or are sent from suspicious accounts." The "quality filter" is a welcome tool to anyone experiencing cyberbullying or intense abuse from trolls lurking in every dark digital corner.
The quality filter feature was first noticed by tech blogger Anil Dash, who tweeted out a screenshot of the new tool. (Twitter did not officially announce its release.) The tool is currently only being rolled out to verified iOS users, according to TechCrunch, and the process of who gets Twitter's quality filter is ongoing. It's similar to an existing feature, tailored filtering, which allows verified users to customize their notifications and control whose tweets make it to onto their timeline. That could mean limiting your notifications to specific verified followers or mutually followed accounts.
The latest tool takes tailored filtering one step further by giving users the opportunity to alert Twitter to abusive tweets. Since the filter appears to be activated by simple on/off option, how exactly Twitter will scan and monitor reported messages is unclear. Most likely, the platform will rely on algorithms to detect key offensive words as well as incorporate some level of human oversight.
The social media site typically reserves its blue check mark of verification for "highly sought" Twitter users, such as celebrities, politicians, athletes, and other high-profile individuals. Official accounts for brands and companies can also receive verification checks. Because these people and brands are so often in the public eye, their accounts can become easy targets of major trolling.
But the reality is that online abuse affects everyone. For Twitter, the situation got so bad that even CEO Dick Costolo took "full responsibility." In an internal memo obtained by The Verge, he said that Twitter lost users because it couldn't adequately police trolls.
We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
Fortunately, Twitter released anti-harassment tools late last year to help users report abusive behavior such as name-calling and threats of violence. The quality filter is a great next step. No word yet on when it will be made available to all Twitter users, but hopefully everyone will soon have the opportunity to turn the troll noise off.