Twitter Inc. just unveiled new measures that will make it easier for the company to identify and put a stop to those who frequently harass others. Its new safety-reporting system also simplifies the process enabling Twitter users to report “impersonation, self-harm and the sharing of private and confidential information.”
Twitter has learned the hard way that there’s a downside that comes with allowing almost anyone in the world to connect with almost anyone else. The social network has been at the forefront of the cyberbullying debate in recent years, rolling out changes in December that gave the company more leeway to police abuse. It brought that policy up-to-date Thursday, with all changes scheduled to be available to users in coming weeks.
Among the most recent changes are “new enforcement actions” Twitter will take to combat online trolls, meaning users who make inflammatory or threatening remarks solely for the sake of creating controversy. One of those actions centers on a contact-verification system whereby Twitter users whose services have been suspended temporarily will need to provide email addresses or phone numbers to restore service, the company told Ars Technica.
This action could be a major development in the fight against doxing, the harassment method used by anonymous parties to post personal information -- phone numbers, home addresses, employment records -- belonging to unwitting targets. At present, Twitter may suspend a doxer only to allow him or her back after a short timeout. In the future, though, the company will attempt to obtain identifying information about the user, which introduces new complications for hacking groups such as Anonymous and Lizard Squad.
Twitter also announced it has “tripled” the size of its safety staff since its statement about the company’s planned changes in December. Thursday’s update came about three weeks after the Verge posted a forum exchange between Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and his subordinates, in which he wrote, “We suck at dealing with abuse.”