Twitter finally rolls out new features to address abuse and harassment

Twitter has had a harassment problem for a decade. Users and activists have implored the social media network to take preventative measures against misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, and racially-based attacks. Today Twitter announced new features to combat hate speech.

Twitter has altered its mute function for users to have the option to filter keywords, hashtags, and specific filters. Twitter writes in a blog post: “We’re enabling you to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations you don’t want to see notifications about, rolling out to everyone in the coming days. This is a feature we’ve heard many of you ask for, and we’re going to keep listening to make it better and more comprehensive over time.”


The new mute tool will also allow users to mute entire conversation threads, so say bye bye to being continuously @’ed on a week-old thread. No more notifications from the thread at all. It will still remain on your timeline, and you don’t even have to block the user who doesn’t understand proper etiquette of engagement on Twitter.

BuzzFeed reports that Twitter will also have a hateful conduct reporting option when users report harmful or abusive tweets. It will give the option to report a tweet as “directing hate against a race, religion, gender, or orientation.”

On this, Twitter writes:

“Our hateful conduct policy prohibits specific conduct that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. Today we’re giving you a more direct way to report this type of conduct for yourself, or for others, whenever you see it happening. This will improve our ability to process these reports, which helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps to strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter.”

The new reporting feature will also allow bystanders to report abuse on behalf of other users. Twitter says it’s retrained its support team on abuse protocol, too.

Over the years, Twitter has been slow to respond to user complaints of abuse that include rape threats, death threats, slurs, and harassment. While the new functions are a step in the right direction, it will take time to see if it’s actually effective. Reporting, blocking, and muting abusive trolls hasn’t stopped them yet.