Twitter Helps Users Shut Out Bullies

Photo of Twitter icon
Matt Rourke / AP Images

Twitter is taking steps against the bullying for which it is all too well-known. The social media platform makes news headlines every day and usually not for the noblest reasons (even more so now, thanks to President Trump’s affinity for sharing his thoughts in 140 characters or less – #COVFEFE anyone?). But this time, the internet’s bullies won’t be given the spotlight because Twitter is making it easier for users to shut them out.

On Monday, 10 June, Twitter announced that Twitizens now have more control over the notifications they receive. Fortune magazine reports that users can now mute other members of the Twitter community they don’t follow, as well as those who don’t follow them. Users can also “filter lower-quality content,” like automated Tweets or duplicate Tweets, for example, and can “mute notifications related to certain words and phrases,” Fortune says.

Mashable shares some of Twitter’s “new quality filters.”

  • Accounts that are new (that you don’t follow).
  • Accounts that don’t follow you (that you don’t follow).
  • Accounts you don’t follow.
  • Accounts with a default profile photo (that you don’t follow).
  • Accounts without a confirmed email address (that you don’t follow).
  • Accounts without a confirmed phone number (that you don’t follow).

This update to Twitter’s platform comes on the heels of Rob Kardashian’s revenge porn stunt, which prompted the rest of the internet to ponder (yet again) – what exactly propels Twitter to take action against obvious issues of online abuse. One article in Business Insider shares a portion of “the prospectus that Twitter filed ahead of its IPO in 2013,” that reveals contradictions in Twitter’s overarching goal and its stance against “hostile behaviour.”

“If users, including influential users, do not continue to contribute content to Twitter, and we are unable to provide users with valuable and timely content, our user base and user engagement may decline. Additionally, if we are not able to address user concerns regarding the safety and security of our products and services or if we are unable to successfully prevent abusive or other hostile behavior on our platform, the size of our user base and user engagement may decline.”

Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna
Rob Kardashian, left, and his former fiancee, Blac Chyna, right. Kardashian posted a number of sexually explicit photos of Chyna, classified as revenge porn. His Instagram account was immediately suspended, but his Tweets were available for days after and his Twitter account is still active. [Image by Charles Sykes and Richard Shotwell/AP Images] Charles Sykes and Richard Shotwel / AP Images

According to the article, Twitter’s efforts to encourage participation from social media influencers, like celebrities, potentially overrides its policies against bullying. Another Business Insider article shared that a 2015 report revealed, “a whopping 88 [percent] of the abusive mentions on social media happen on Twitter.”

By the same token, bullying of high-profile individuals like Leslie Jones and, more recently, Ed Sheeran and Teen Mom OG star, Mackenzie Standifer, reduces the amount of “influential users” in the Twitterverse and raises awareness of internet bullying.

Ed Sheeran performing at NBC's "Today" show.
Ed Sheeran performs on NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday, July 6, 2017. Sheeran was the target of internet bullying and deleted his Twitter account as a result. [Image by Charles Sykes/AP Images] Charles Sykes / AP Images

Twitter is aware and is taking steps to help curb the abuse and its effects. This isn’t the first attempt the social media giant has made to shut down the trolls, according to Mashable. It is, however, a very welcome and much-needed step forward in the fight against online bullying. The bullies won’t stop, but hopefully, this move by Twitter will significantly shorten their reach.

[Featured Image by Matt Rourke/AP Images]