Twitter admits it “didn’t move fast enough” to fight abuse

Twitter is set to introduce new anti-harassment tools in order to stamp out abuse on its platform, following widespread criticism of the company’s response to online trolls.

The imminent changes were revealed by Ed Ho, vice president of engineering at Twitter, who announced on Monday that the company would start work on the new measures this week.

“Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus,” he tweeted, “and we are now moving with more urgency than ever.”

First on the company’s agenda will be updates to Twitter’s mute and block facilities, as well as working on “stopping repeat offenders from creating new accounts”. No specific timeline was given for a rollout of the changes, but Ho said that the company is targeting “days and hours not weeks and months”.

Harassment has been an ongoing problem for Twitter and its users, but the issue has been particularly exacerbated by recent political events, with anonymous trolls targeting various figures from MPs to celebrities and those opposed to Donald Trump. Those who are banned for offensive content simply create a new account, allowing them to continue abusing their opponents.

Alongside Twitter’s legions of anonymous trolls, however, the company has also come under fire for its treatment of far-right figures such as “alt-right” founder Richard Spencer. Campaigners argue that by giving him “verified” status on its platform, Twitter has legitimised both him and his white supremacist views – which have twice led people to punch him in the face.

As Twitter increasingly becomes the political discussion platform of choice for many people – up to and including the US president – it appears that the company is being forced to take greater action to moderate its users.

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