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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Twitter is testing a new ‘Safety Mode’: Here’s what it will mean

Twitter is testing a new 'Safety Mode' which is rolling out as a beta feature for select users. Here's what it will do, and how it will work

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |
September 2, 2021 9:52:33 am
Twitter, Twitter Safety Mode, Twitter Safety Mode users, Twitter Safety, Twitter How to stay safe, What is Safety Mode on TwitterTwitter Safety Mode is rolling out to a select group of users. Here's how it will work. (Image credit: Twitter)

Twitter is testing a new ‘Safety Mode’ which is rolling out as a beta feature for select users. This is the latest move in the company’s ongoing efforts to “do more to reduce the burden on people dealing with unwelcome interactions.” Twitter has long been criticised for not cracking down effectively on trolling and hate speech on the platform.

The feature will “reduce disruptive interactions,” according to a blog post. The Safety Mode has started rolling out to “a small feedback group on iOS, Android, and, beginning with accounts that have English-language settings enabled,” adds the post.

Twitter says it is adding this feature to ensure that individuals on the receiving end of hateful tweets are better protected and one way is “by reducing the prevalence and visibility of harmful remarks.”

Twitter says it has “conducted several listening and feedback sessions for trusted partners with expertise in online safety, mental health, and human rights, including members of our Trust and Safety Council,” as it tested and built this product.

Twitter Safety Mode feature: How does it work?

The big change in Safety Mode is that the feature “temporarily blocks accounts for seven days for using potentially harmful language.” According to the blogpost, this language includes insults, hateful remarks, and also blocks those who send repetitive and uninvited replies or mentions.

The blog post does not give a very broad definition of what will constitute harmful language, and given it applies to those with English language settings enabled, the feature is unlikely to block hateful or abusive remarks in other languages. It is not clear if and by when Twitter will expand the feature to other language settings.

Users in the feedback group, can go to Settings, followed by Privacy and safety to enable the new Safety Mode. The systems will “assess the likelihood of a negative engagement by considering both the tweet’s content and the relationship between the Tweet author and the reply,” explains the blog.

The technology takes into account “existing relationships” and if one interacts with an account frequently or follows them, it will not be auto blocked.

If Twitter’s systems find someone’s tweets to be harmful or uninvited, their account will be blocked automatically, and their account will not be visible to the person to whom the tweet was sent. The user whose account gets autoblocked will be unable to follow the other account, see the latter’s tweets or send them direct messages, which should ensure some relief, protection for the intended target.

Users will be able to get information about the tweets flagged through Safety Mode and view the details of temporarily blocked accounts at any time. Further, before each Safety Mode period ends, the user will receive a notification. Remember, each account is only getting auto blocked for seven days.

The blog post acknowledges that the system won’t be perfect and it might make mistakes, which is why “Safety Mode autoblocks can be seen and undone at any time” in the settings.

When will Safety Mode roll out for all users?

Twitter says it will “observe how Safety Mode is working and incorporate improvements and adjustments before bringing it to everyone” on the platform.

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