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Twitter Adds New Mute and Filter Features to Clamp Down on Abuse

Variety logo Variety 3/1/2017 Janko Roettgers

Twitter took another step against hate speech and abuse on its service Wednesday, introducing a number of new mute and filtering features that will help users to silence any potential abusers. The company also officially acknowledged its recently-launched penalty box, stating in a blog post that it was looking to “improve and iterate on” these kinds of features to make Twitter safer.

Going forward, Twitter users will be able to filter out notifications from accounts that could have been set up specifically for harassment. For example, users can decide not to get any notifications from accounts without profile pictures anymore, or from users who haven’t verified their email address.

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Muting certain keywords or accounts is also becoming easier. Users can mute things directly from their timeline, and set time limits on muting to only ignore a certain user or topic for a day, or a week. While primarily built to combat abuse, this could conceivably also be used to avoid TV show spoilers.

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Twitter has been stepping up its fight against abuse in recent months, and recently also began to institute a penalty box that automatically limits the reach of accounts that it found to have engaged in abusive behavior. “For example, this change could come into effect if 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,” the company explained Thursday.

Many users have long complained that Twitter wasn’t doing enough to fight abuse, and Twitter often got criticized for not following up on abuse reports at all. Perhaps as a reaction to this point of criticism, the company is also now beginning to notify users when one of their abuse reports has resulted in the ban of a different user, similar to the way Instagram has been handling these kinds of complaints.

Twitter said Wednesday that these new changes would become available globally in the coming weeks.

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