Twitter said that it would begin making good on its promise to curb harassment, and has started today by giving users the ability to report offending tweets, even if the author has blocked them.
Considered to be one of the most requested features, the use case may not immediately make sense. If there is someone, say my colleague Jordan Novet, who has shown a pattern of harassing me on Twitter and has blocked me — I won’t be able to see what he writes about me. The pattern of harassment could continue without me knowing it, allowing him to slander, lie, and ruin my good reputation. However, if someone that follows him flags a tweet to my attention, what recourse do I have?
Twitter believes its new feature will solve that. I can go to Novet’s profile and flag it to Twitter’s attention, highlighting up to five tweets that I’ve deemed as harassing. Because I’ve been blocked from seeing my colleague’s profile, I still won’t see most of his tweets. Twitter will surface only those posts that specifically mention my username.
Unfortunately it only includes your username, so there’s still a chance that trolls could subtweet you or use your real name and Twitter won’t be the wiser — at least for now. But this is a step forward, maybe.
We heard your feedback. You can now report Tweets that mention you, even if the author has blocked you. Learn more: https://t.co/pTIoUbo674
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 1, 2017
To initiate a report across Twitter’s web, iOS, or Android apps, visit someone’s profile and tap on the gear or overflow icon. Select “Report” and then provide additional information, including select tweets as evidence for Twitter to review.
Earlier this week, the company’s vice president of engineering Ed Ho tweeted that more changes would be coming soon, and this happens to be one of them. However, he cautioned that not all changes would be visible to users. A company spokesperson told VentureBeat: “We’re approaching safety with a sense of urgency. As such, we will be rolling out a number of product changes in the coming days and weeks — some will be immediately visible, while others will be more targeted to specific scenarios. We will update you along the way and continue to test, learn, and iterate on these changes to evaluate their effectiveness. You can expect to see meaningful progress in this area.”
Twitter has been under fire for its lack of protection afforded to users. Even former chief executive Dick Costolo acknowledged the fact — at the Upfront Summit this week, he apologized for the company’s lack of action during his tenure, reportedly saying “I wish I could turn back the clock and go back to 2010 and stop abuse on the platform by creating a very specific bar for how to behave on the platform. … I take responsibility for not taking the bull by the horns.”