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article imageTwitter to let you block out the trolls by muting words

By James Walker     Oct 31, 2016 in Technology
Twitter is developing a new feature that could make it easier to avoid abuse on its platform. "Muted words" allows you to hide any tweets containing specific words, an ability that could also prevent the disappointment of seeing online spoilers.
The Next Web reports the feature was spotted by observant users on Sunday when it began showing up in Twitter's iOS app. It appears as a new pane within the app's notification settings. A simple interface lets you add a new word and view your existing ones. Each word is accompanied by a single toggle that allows you to enable or disable it. You don't have to repetitively delete and add back words if you need to turn one off for a while.
Minutes after the feature was turned on for some users, Twitter turned it off again. A trusted source told The Next Web that the company had managed to accidentally enable it ahead of schedule. It was turned on for such a short period of time that it remains unclear exactly how it works. It is thought any "muted words" will be filtered out from tweets in your timeline and search results. It may only cover hashtags or could expand to every word in the tweet.
The feature is likely to be aimed primarily at combating Twitter's widely documented abuse problem. The company offers limited support to people who fall victim to harassment on its platform. In 2014, the company enabled the ability to "mute" a user's tweets, stopping them appearing in the timeline.
Muting a user doesn’t always help though. Twitter offers little else to help users stay safe online, despite maintaining a set of community guidelines that state it takes action against trolls and bullies. It's thought the company's abuse problem may have contributed to Disney's decision not to buy it earlier this month.
Last year, then-CEO Dick Costolo admitted publicly "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years." Costolo took personal responsibility for the company's failure to protect its users, saying "It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing." He pledged to "start kicking these people off right and left," ensuring that "nobody hears" the "ridiculous attacks" of trolls.
However, well over a year later, Twitter is still mired by the abuse that takes place on its platform. Muted words may go some way to helping the situation but it's unlikely to be the feature that helps users lift themselves out of already abusive situations. It may help to make the community a little safer though, at least giving users more control of what they see on Twitter.
Muted words is currently disabled while Twitter completes its development. The company has not publicly acknowledged its existence but it's thought it will see a rollout across all supported platforms in the near future. Users will then be able to block out hate speech or avoid online spoilers without leaving Twitter's app.
More about Twitter, Tweets, Abuse, Online abuse, Social media
 
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