Twitter fights back, again, against online trolls

Company adds features to try to nix abusive users and stop harassment

Twitter is extending its campaign to curb trolls and abuse on its social network.

The company announced today that it's making three changes to continue its efforts to give Twitter users more control over what they see on the site and who can use it.

"Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus," wrote Ed Ho, Twitter's vice president of engineering, in a blog post. "We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic. That's put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices. We won't tolerate it and we're launching new efforts to stop it."

Users have been increasingly vocal about the problems and pain that come with dealing with online trolls, who verbally attack others by posting hateful comments, photos or memes.

Last summer, for instance, actress Leslie Jones, who starred in the remake of the movie Ghostbusters, was the direct target of trolls who pummeled her Twitter account with racist language, hateful memes and pornography.

In November, Twitter took on trolls, noting in another blog post that the company had seen a sharp increase in "abuse, bullying, and harassment" online in the past several years.

At the time, Twitter tackled the issue by adding features that enable users to mute keywords, phrases and entire conversations they don't want to see. The company also set up a more direct way to report "hateful conduct" on Twitter and said they had retrained their support teams on harassment issues.

Now, Twitter is expanding on that by trying to stop the creation of abusive accounts and more efficiently nixing abusive tweets and comments.

"We're taking steps to identify people who have been permanently suspended and stop them from creating new accounts," wrote Ho. "This focuses more effectively on some of the most prevalent and damaging forms of behavior, particularly accounts that are created only to abuse and harass others."

Twitter also is moving to make potentially offensive tweets and comments harder to see by banishing content from blocked and muted accounts from search results . The content can still be found, but not through basic searches.

Ho added that another new feature is focused on getting rid of abusive and "low-quality" tweets.

"Our team has also been working on identifying and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies so the most relevant conversations are brought forward," he wrote. "These Tweet replies will still be accessible to those who seek them out. You can expect to see this change rolling out in the coming weeks."

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