Twitter Extends 'Mute' Option to Notifications

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Twitter is rolling out new anti-harassment tools to address online bullying.

First, it will extend the "mute" feature it rolled out in 2014 to notifications. Folks can block keywords, phrases, and entire conversations from reaching their notification tab, similar to the way Instagram lets users ban specific words in their comments section.

Once the update rolls out, look for the mute option in Notifications > Settings.

Twitter also teased a "more direct way" to report hateful conduct, whether it's directed toward you or someone else. That includes threats against people based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.

Twitter did not elaborate on what that entails except to say that it "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." Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but TechCrunch suggests that having multiple people report the same abusive tweet will "ramp up the attention it gets."

Currently, users can report tweets via the "more" icon (three dots on the Web, down-facing carrot on mobile); select Report > It's abusive or harmful.

"Abusive conduct removes the chance to see and share all perspectives around an issue, which we believe is critical to moving us all forward," Twitter said in a blog post. "In the worst cases, this type of conduct threatens human dignity, which we should all stand together to protect."

Twitter says it retrained its support teams on policies, implemented an ongoing refresher program, and improved internal tools and systems to more efficiently deal with reports. "Our goal is a faster and more transparent process," Twitter said.

Abuse has been an ongoing problem for Twitter. Almost two years ago, former CEO Dick Costolo admitted that the company "sucks" at dealing with trolls. And while it has rolled out incremental updates intended to combat abuse, like allowing users to flip on a "quality filter" or only see responses from those they follow, the issue reportedly thwarted a takeover deal from Salesforce, which didn't want to deal with it.

Earlier this year, Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was stripped of his account verification after reportedly telling another user that she "deserved to be harassed you social justice loser." Six months later, Twitter permanently banned Yiannopoulos for his role in the online harassment of actress and comedian Leslie Jones.

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