Special Reports

Twitter: New 'Mute' Feature To Combat Online Harassment and Abuse


Twitter has announced their newest "mute" feature that enables Twitter users to clear out certain keywords, phrases and conversations that they do not want to see in their notifications. This move made by Twitter aims to address or combat online bullying, harassment and abuse.

This has been a priority of the social media network to be added on their features based on the feedback and complaints of Twitter users, according to Del Harvey, Twitter's vice president of trust and safety.

"We've heard from users that this [notifications] is an area where people don't feel as though they have as much control on Twitter," Harvey said. "You're not searching for this content, but it's still something that's coming in to your Twitter experience."

This new feature will allow users to come up with their own list of words and phrases they don't want to pop up in their notifications, but using this mute button will not mean that they will not exist online. It will just keep the users from seeing those unwanted posts.

This feature is also similar to what Instagram rolled out earlier this year which has allowed users to block comments containing certain phrases they find offensive or unacceptable. This step taken by Twitter was triggered by repeated criticisms after the elections saying that they were not doing enough and not moving fast enough to address these social media issues.

Harvey, being with Twitter for 8 years, has already been aware at how frustrating it was for Twitter users that the network hasn't treated harassment issues with urgency. "We haven't always moved as quickly as we would like or done as much as we would like," she said, adding that the network is desperately trying to balance the respect for the freedom of speech and protecting its users from online abuse.

"We have tried to be thoughtful, to make sure we don't have unintended and negative consequences," Harvey said.

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