Twitter reverses decision on anti-bullying tool

Twitter has reversed a decision to block a feature that was considered a source of bullying on the platform, mere hours after rolling it out.

Users were told on Monday that they would no longer be notified if other Twitter members added their names to lists, a response to calls for the social network to clamp down on lists designed to abuse or insult its members.

It seems Twitter can't win, as users have since complained that this simply buries the abuse, and prevents users from being able to see when they are being targeted.

Users also complained that a blanket ban would limit an otherwise useful feature for connecting with other users.

Twitter reversed the decision two hours later, with Ed Ho, Twitter's VP of engineering, tweeting: "Reconsidered and reversing."

Other changes, including collapsing abusive tweets and a new safe search function, are still planned to go ahead.

08/02/2017: Twitter steps up fight against trolls

Twitter is making three major platform changes to fight back against online bullying and harassment issues that continue to plague the social network.

The company, which has previously spoken out about its troll problem, outlined its plans in a blog post written by vice president of engineering, Ed Ho.

"We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic," he wrote. "That's put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices."

The upcoming changes consist of attempting to stop trolls creating new abusive accounts, introducing safer search results, and collapsing potentially abusive tweets.

The first point involves identifying those permanently suspended from the website and preventing them from creating new accounts; this largely focuses on some of the most damaging forms of online behaviour.

"We're also working on 'safe search' which removes tweets that contain potentially sensitive content and tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results," Ho said.

The final point works to change the way tweets are displayed so that potentially abusive tweets can be collapsed in order to bring the most relevant conversations forward. These tweets will still be accessible, but they'll need to be sought out by those who wish to view them.

"With every change, we'll learn, iterate, and continue to move at this speed until we've made a significant impact that people can feel," Ho added.

While there is no exact date given for the release of these changes, Ho wrote that we can expect to see them "in the coming weeks".

Dale Walker

Dale Walker is the Managing Editor of ITPro, and its sibling sites CloudPro and ChannelPro. Dale has a keen interest in IT regulations, data protection, and cyber security. He spent a number of years reporting for ITPro from numerous domestic and international events, including IBM, Red Hat, Google, and has been a regular reporter for Microsoft's various yearly showcases, including Ignite.