It’s been more than six months since Twitter decided it should finally start taking its troll problem seriously.
The good news: Twitter says its many updates to address abuse and improve its reporting process are working. The service is now “taking action on” 10 times more abusive accounts, compared with this time last year, according to new stats released today.
The bad news: Twitter is still filled with trolls even as Twitter steps up its efforts to fight them. Many high profile celebrities have left the platform due to abuse (but not, apparently, Ed Sheeran who says he’s simply taking a “break” from the service). And despite some fixes, Twitter’s existing reporting process often fails its users, according to an exhaustive investigation from BuzzFeed.
Still, Twitter’s General Manager of Consumer Product and Engineering Ed Ho says the company really, really, is getting better at dealing with this kind of thing.
Among the improvements listed in his blog post today:
Twitter is way better at identifying the “repeat offenders” who make new accounts after being suspended or banned for abusive activity. Ho says Twitter has removed “twice the number of these accounts” over the last four months.
Accounts that get put into Twitter’s “timeout” are responsible for 25 percent fewer abuse reports. Only 35 percent face a subsequent timeout.
Twitter’s “quality filter,” which automatically weeds out certain types of tweets from your mentions, is apparently having a positive effect: Ho says blocks immediately following mentions are down 40 percent.
Those numbers may be encouraging to some, but they’ll likely do little to quiet critics who say Twitter isn’t doing enough to fix its worst problems or deal with its worst offenders (cough, Trump).
In fact, Twitter’s own blog post seems to reference criticisms that Trump gets to play by a different set of rules than everyone else.
We have consistent harassment definitions and policies that apply to everyone. However, people define abuse differently, so using these new tools, every person has control of what they see and experience on Twitter.
That’s right: when in doubt, just hide the stuff you don’t like.