Twitter rolls back new tool to curb online harassment

Lists on Twitter is a curated group of Twitter accounts. On a list timeline, users only see a stream of Tweets from the accounts on that list.

By: Tech Desk | Updated: February 14, 2017 2:59 pm
Twitter, Twitter list, twitter online harassment, Twitter online abuse, Twitter rolls back features, Twitter list feature, Twitter app, smartphones, technology, technology news Lists on Twitter is a curated group of Twitter accounts. On a list timeline, users only see a stream of tweets from the accounts on that list.

Twitter, which is working faster than ever to curb online harassment, rolled out a couple of changes for its platform. One of these changes was that it stopped notifying users when they were added to a list. But this did not go down well with a lot of users, who thought they should be able to know when harassers decide to add them to these lists. As a result, Twitter rolled back the feature two hours later, calling it a ‘misstep’.

Twitter Safety page, in a tweet said, “We heard your feedback – this was a misstep. We’re rolling back the change and we’ll keep listening.” The original change was essentially rolled out to show users only the notifications that ‘matter’. However, it backfired as users thought they should be able to report abusive users instead of no notification, when someone adds them to a list.

“Are you serious? @jack @mrdonut? We wanted to be able to report abusive users adding us to lists not stop being alerted when it happened,” said Twitter user Izzy Galvez.

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Lists on Twitter is a curated group of Twitter accounts. On a list timeline, users only see a stream of Tweets from the accounts on that list. Harassers on Twitter tend to make use of notifications from lists to troll other users on the platform. For example, if you’ve put out a tweet in favour of a particular political party, those against that party might make a random list with an abusive name and add you to it. In India, journalists might find themselves added to lists with names like ‘presstitutes’, ‘sickulars’ etc.

Of course, different users would like to deal with it in different ways. Some might want to report the harasser who added them to the list, while some might want to stop receiving notifications related to it. However, majority of users want the former, which eventually made Twitter roll back its new tool.

Twitter says it is working with more urgency than ever to make it a ‘safer’ place for users.  It has introduced changes such as stopping creation of new abusive accounts, safer search results, and collapsing potentially abusive or low-quality tweets. The company, which is struggling to boost users numbers, says it will keep rolling out updates in phases to make ‘meaningful progress’. It is planning to announce a couple of more changes in the coming weeks.

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