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Twitter Unveils New Anti-Cyberbullying Updates – How Effective Will They Be?

by Meghan Gabel

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Cyberbullying and online abuse has long been a problem for every social media platform. In recent years, this has particularly been an issue for Twitter, where people are able to publicly and anonymously voice their opinions in real time. The company has taken measures in the past to curb harassment, with features like the mute button, which allows users to block future tweets from certain accounts, but does little to stop the spread of hate speech. On Tuesday, Twitter finally announced a safety upgrade that will prevent hateful comments from even being seen. BIGfish president David Gerzof Richard weighed in on Twitter’s safety upgrade on NECN. Watch the segment below.

How effective will these anti-cyberbullying features really be? In a blog post, Twitter stated, “There are three areas we’re focused on, and happy to announce progress around today: controls, reporting, and enforcement.” Tackling the controls portion of their anti-bullying strategy, Twitter unveiled a new feature that will expand the mute button’s capabilities: instead of just blocking an account that you no longer want to see tweets from, users can now mute words, phrases and even entire conversations. This prevents any tweets that include hateful words from appearing in your feed and blocks abusive accounts from contacting you.

Twitter also announced plans to improve abuse reporting for users. The newly updated tools give users a more direct way to report speech that violates Twitter’s “hateful conduct” policy. “We’ve also improved our internal tools and systems in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it’s reported to us,” the company said. With faster and more specific reporting, Twitter hopes to revamp its ability to process every report, and more quickly help victims of cyberbullying.

Addressing enforcement, the third pillar of Twitter’s updated anti-cyberbullying strategy, the company reassured users that they have retrained all of their support teams and will implement ongoing refresher programs on the cultural and historical context of hate speech.

These features may not remove online harassment overnight, but it is a long-overdue upgrade for Twitter that empowers users and protects them from harmful tweets in the future. How successful do you think Twitter’s new updates will be? Share your comments below or tweet us at @BIGfishPR!

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