Twitter is introducing new regulations to combat online trolls, ensuring the safe use of social media for individuals and executives. Mentions and notifications on the site usually show the user every time someone has tagged them into a tweet.
This new feature will mean that people cannot see an abusive or threatening mention unless they actively search their handle in the search bar, or actively follow the user who has sent the tweet.
The new feature known as ‘abuse blocking’ will only be available to verified users to begin with and only used on mobile devices during a trial period. But if successful, it will be rolled out by Twitter on all accounts and devices. The feature will use algorithms to detect threatening words and their context to decide whether to block them from a user’s timeline. It can also lock the individual out of their account for a certain amount of time or until they remove the tweet which has been detected.
A number of celebrities, including Stephen Fry and Matt Lucas, have previously announced their intention to leave Twitter after being subjected to abuse from ‘trolls’. This step aims to counteract the abusive messages and act as a reputation management tool for people subjected to bullying and threatening messages.
But it’s not just about high profile figures. Twitter has the potential to reach everyone. Reputation management, and knowing how to protect yourself online is important for anyone who uses social networks – from company executives to young people.
Shreyas Doshi, Twitter’s director of product management, said in a company statement: “We are updating our violent threats policy so that the prohibition is not limited to ‘direct, specific threats of violence against others’ but now extends to ‘threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.’
“Our previous policy was unduly narrow and limited our ability to act on certain kinds of threatening behaviour. The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse.”
The new feature does not take into account whether the person being ‘abused’ is controversial or unpopular; it just takes into account a correlation with abuse and a number of factors including the age of the account and any similarities of a tweet to other content which has previously been detected.
Privacy and sensibility
- To ensure that you stay safe online, you should actively look through your personal and privacy settings.
- Make sure you are aware of who is able to see what parts of information on your account so that you are comfortable and secure online. Before you press ‘send’, reread your tweet and think: ‘is it appropriate?’, ‘would I say this to someone face-to-face?’
- Be aware of what information people can find out about you from a tweet including location, personal information and who you may be with at that moment in time.
- Your online reputation does matter: potential recruiters tend to respond to a strong, positive brand, so demonstrate intelligence and thoughtfulness online.
- Be honest and know what to do if you’re made to feel uncomfortable online – if you aren’t happy with something, let the person know and don’t be afraid to report them. Likewise, always respect someone else’s views and respect their differences.
Safeguarding Young People Online
The new regulations are a step in the right direction for Twitter and social media overall. Any steps instigated, which help safeguard the reputation of young people online can only be a good thing.
Igniyte’s Guide to Managing Your Teenager’s Personal Information Online is designed to equip parents and carers with the information you need to help empower young people to use the Internet in a productive way. It offers helpful advice about how to build a positive online presence; discusses e-safety, and explains why online reputation management is a reality for teenagers today.