Twitter extends abuse blocking to main timeline, puts offenders on timeout

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Twitter continues to step up its attempts to stamp out abuse on its platform.

After adding an option for people to block tweets containing certain keywords, phrases, hashtags or emojis from appearing in their notifications tab, Twitter is extending the option to block those tweets from appearing in people’s main timelines as well and adding the choice to set how long each individual mute should last, from one day to one week to one month to forever.

For years Twitter has had a harassment problem. And while that hasn’t affected marketers’ opinions of Twitter, it can influence other people’s opinions and use of Twitter at a time when Twitter really needs more people to use it. So Twitter has been rolling out features aimed at curbing the abuse happening on its platform, such as by curtailing the reach of low-quality or abusive tweets, impeding suspended users from creating new accounts and making its abuse reporting process more effective.

The mute option is primarily aimed at preventing abusive or otherwise offensive tweets from being shown. Of course it also has the effect of being able to silence other topics, like the name of a TV show to reduce the chances of spoilers from appearing in a timeline or the name of a certain politician to reduce feelings of anger and depression.

In addition to extending the mute option to the main timeline, Twitter is putting abusive accounts on timeout, putting a lid on eggs and updating people about the accounts or tweets they report.

Twitter’s algorithms are now able to recognize when someone is posting abusive tweets, even if those tweets or the user aren’t reported to Twitter. And when Twitter does deem an account as abusive, it will effectively put that account on timeout. According to a company blog post announcing the change, Twitter will limit “certain account functionality for a set amount of time, such as allowing only their followers to see their Tweets [sic].”

Whereas the Twitter timeout will trim the reach of abusive users for a bit, people can now cut down on the reach of other types of users, namely the seemingly nameless ones. From the notifications tab’s “Advanced Filters” setting, people can mute notifications from people who haven’t set a profile photo (commonly called “eggs” after Twitter’s default profile image) as well as people who haven’t confirmed the email address or phone number associated with their account.

And finally Twitter will begin updating people about the status of the reports they file with Twitter’s support team. Twitter will send them notifications confirming that it has received their report and ones following up if Twitter opts to act on the report.

About The Author

Tim Peterson, Third Door Media’s Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat’s ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar’s attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon’s ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube’s programming strategy, Facebook’s ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking’s rise; and documented digital video’s biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed’s branded video production process and Snapchat Discover’s ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands’ early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo’s and Google’s search designs and examine the NFL’s YouTube and Facebook video strategies.


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