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article imageTwitter tests new chatbot to handle support requests

By James Walker     Apr 12, 2017 in Technology
Twitter is testing a new chatbot that will take responsibility for basic customer service exchanges, handling your feature requests and responding to complaints. The development comes as Twitter tries to make its platform a safer place.
Twitter currently maintains its @support account as a place to get in touch with support staff when you have a problem. Today, it's expanding the account by launching a new bot that resides inside Twitter's direct messages feature. Sending a message to @support will enable you to start a conversation with the chatbot and begin finding a solution for your problem.
The bot includes options for security, tips and tricks, abusive behaviour and general help across five main categories: Accounts, Abuse, Impersonalization, General and #TwitterTips. Out of these, it's likely the abuse tools will be used most frequently.
The abuse section is currently the most developed area of the bot, including sub-categories for targeted harassment, revenge porn and private information exposure, dealing with hate messages and responding to threats of violence. The bot can guide you through selecting the right option and reporting the issue to support staff at Twitter.
Twitter still has major problems with handling the harassment that takes place on its platform, despite instigating several measures supposed to combat the issue. The bot should enable people to start finding support if they're the victim of abuse, although in many cases it simply redirects to existing support webpages.
The bot is available in a limited experimental form today. Twitter told BuzzFeed that development is still ongoing and areas of its operation will be tweaked to reflect how people use the tool. The company will also add more functionality and interactivity, cutting down the number of plain links to webpages.
"We’re testing a new @Support DM tool to make it easier for people to get help with certain support issues, directly on Twitter," a Twitter spokesperson said to BuzzFeed News. "This is a very early test and will be limited in scope for the time being."
The bot's launch comes shortly after Twitter announced a new set of measures to improve the safety of users on its platform. These include technologies that intelligently identify potentially abusive accounts and more detailed filtering options to cut down on unwanted notifications.
Twitter has also improved the way in which it communicates with users after a report about abusive behaviour is made. Its app now explicitly states that the report has been read and notifications are displayed when it's reviewed or action is taken.
The measures will reassure users that Twitter takes their reports seriously, indicating the company is beginning to take the task of cleaning up its network to heart. It's reported the proliferation of abuse on Twitter was part of the reason Disney pulled out of discussions about buying the company last year.
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