Twitter seems to be keeping its pledge to release safety improvements faster than before. The company is announcing the next slate of updates intended to make users feel better and more secure. Starting today, Twitter is introducing more notification filters, a streamlined approach to muting people, and better communication around reporting harassment.
In 2015, Twitter first rolled out its quality filter in a bid to minimize abusive tweets that celebrities and verified individuals might see in their timeline. The following year, that feature became available to everyone, preventing “lower-quality content” from being shown. The company has added three new opt-in filters that people can use, limiting tweets from those who have a default profile photo (the iconic Twitter egg), unverified email address, or an unverified phone number.
“Many people requested more filter options for their notifications, and we’re excited to bring these to everyone on Twitter,” explained Ed Ho, Twitter’s vice president of engineering, in a blog post.
Muting has also been given an update that allows users to not only mute people through their profiles or through notifications, but also from the main timeline. You can also tell Twitter to not display tweets that feature specific keywords, such as “Trump” or “The Bachelor,” or specific curse words in tweets or retweets from those you follow. Twitter gives you the option to specify how long you want content to be muted (from one day to a week, a month, or indefinitely).
Twitter also wants you to know that it cares about your safety and is stepping up its efforts around abusive accounts. Previously, if someone was harassing you, it was possible to report them for review, but all communications were done by email — a bit of a disconnect. Starting today, Twitter is aiming for greater transparency, which is why it will begin notifying you in-app when it receives your report and when any further action is taken. These communications will be displayed within the notification tab.
Lately, I’ve noticed that Instagram has done a pretty good job when I flag an account. When I receive a message from someone offering to help me get more followers, for example, immediately after I report the account, I receive a confirmation. Eventually Instagram sends me a push notification of any action taken, such as removing the offending account. Twitter appears to be following a similar model, and, if executed correctly, it could help reassure people who have wondered why no action was being taken following their report.
It seems Twitter is also now taking steps to be more proactive when it comes to dealing with harassers. Ho said that the company is working to “identify accounts as they’re engaging in abusive behavior, even if this behavior hasn’t been reported to us.” He didn’t offer specifics about how this active monitoring would function, but he said that Twitter’s algorithm will act on accounts that it’s “confident” are exhibiting signs of abusive behavior. Ho warned that mistakes will happen, due to the technology being in its infancy, but he wanted users to “know that we are actively working to improve and iterate on [these measures] everyday.”
These latest updates come as Twitter has also launched features around reducing conversation notifications, reporting tweets from users who block you, stemming the creation of new abusive accounts, introducing safer search, surfacing higher-quality tweets over abusive ones, and more.
Updated as of 9:44a.m. Pacific on Wednesday: Clarified that Twitter is notifying you in-app of abuse report updates and has previously done so but through email.