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Twitter updates harassment reporting tool and block feature

Twitter recently announced updates to the way it lets users report instances of harassment on the site.

Twitter updates harassment reporting tool
After receiving criticism for poorly handling harassment on its site, Twitter updated the process by which users report inappropriate comments. The change was sorely needed, especially in light of the ongoing harassment linked to Gamergate and the comments about Robin Williams's death that caused his daughter Zelda Williams to temporarily leave the service.

Del Harvey, Twitter's vice president of trust and safety, commented that the new features give users more control.

"The changes we're announcing today to our harassment reporting process and to our block feature are representative of our broader focus on giving people more control over their own Twitter experience, including their interactions with others," said Harvey, according to The Verge.

Users who experience harassment on Twitter will receive more control in blocking whomever is responsible for the unwelcome communication. According to Wired, the tools for reporting harassment, which have been redesigned for mobile users, are now more conversational. The feature will ask questions such as who is being harassed, what the nature of the harassment is, and whether violent threats have been made. Users who report harassment they have experienced themselves will be able to offer more information than those reporting on behalf of someone else. Twitter also made clear that it will act faster than it has in the past on addressing the issues reported.

"We're also working to take advantage of more behavioral signals – including reports from bystanders – and using those signals to prioritize reports and speed up our review process," Harvey added, according to the news source. 

Blocking feature is improved
Wired also reported that the Block feature on Twitter has been improved. Blocked users will not be able to see the profiles of those who blocked them, whereas in the past they were still able to see public tweets. The issue still remains, however, that blocked people can logout of Twitter and view public tweets of those who blocked them. Twitter believes in such cases the blocked users will nonetheless be far less likely to interact with people who have blocked them.

Since Twitter users will now be able to block people easily, the company is adding a page that allows users to see everyone that has been blocked in the past. Wired refers to this as a "troll collection," adding that users can move blocked people to mute status, or restore them if they are not longer causing concern.

In the end, these changes by Twitter are necessary because some of its users have experienced severe harassment since the site first launched. Many users have not experienced direct harassment, but can still benefit from having additional control over their Twitter experience. Having the right to block certain people from viewing or commenting on posts seems fair. Recently it has been debated whether social media content belongs to the user or the site it is hosted on. However, regardless of this discussion, when users experience harassment or receive threats, it is clear that they deserve to shield themselves from such abuse. 

The topics of free speech and privacy are frequently mentioned in relation to Twitter, but the conversation usually winds down to one central issue – the Internet cannot be thoroughly policed. Accordingly, users must take matters into their own hands to ensure that their information does not end up being viewed by unintended parties, or that if they are experiencing harassment, they have the ability to block malicious people and report the behavior.

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