Twitter is gearing up to release new updates that the company claims will make the service a “safer place.” In a series of tweets, Twitter vice president of engineering Ed Ho acknowledged what many have known for a while: It has done a poor job in stopping harassment. To that, he said that this week users will begin seeing the first effort to make things right, including making fixes to the mute and block feature and preventing “repeat offenders from creating new accounts.”
When reached for additional information, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat: “We’re approaching safety with a sense of urgency. As such, we will be rolling out a number of product changes in the coming days and weeks – some will be immediately visible, while others will be more targeted to specific scenarios. We will update you along the way and continue to test, learn and iterate on these changes to evaluate their effectiveness. You can expect to see meaningful progress in this area.”
Ho alluded to a number of changes that will be made to Twitter in the coming days, but cautioned that some will be visible while others “will be less so.”
Tackling harassment has been declared a top priority for the company, especially after chief executive Jack Dorsey asked users for feedback at the end of last year. Besides editing tweets, many have complained about the treatment they’ve received — just look at actor Leslie Jones — and Dorsey has admitted that there’s “obviously a ton of work ahead” while stipulating that Twitter has not done a quick enough job of implementing change.
To that, Ho said the company is now thinking about progress “in days and hours, not weeks and months.”
Conversations will continue on Twitter, but the platform must provide not only defenses to its users, but for developers, who can filter out hurtful and demeaning tweets so that ideas and knowledge are shared. Dissenting opinions, debate, and dialogues of all sorts has its place on these platforms, but with constant abuse and harassment with little remedy can not only diminish usage but dissuade others from participating in conversations.
If Twitter wants to think about being a place for productive conversations and exchanging of ideas in real-time, it needs to be a place where everyone can contribute to talk about things.
Of course this isn’t necessarily the case for everyone — just look at how polarizing Donald Trump’s Twitter account has become.