Though they admit they can't keep up with the flood of hatefulness and abuse that flows from a large swath of their user base especially the anonymous ones! Twitter announced Tuesday that they were rolling out another set of changes that will hopefully, at least, let the remainder of their users who haven't shout-typed "cuck" or "fa**ot" a thousand times in the last week, ignore those people more easily.
As the company admits in a blog post titled "Progress on addressing online abuse," they've "had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct" due to the fact that Twitter happens in real time and likely due to the sheer volume of abuse reports they get.
Further, they're going to let you mute notifications finally, and tweets via keywords, and not just tweets by a particular deplorable user:
Twitter has long had a feature called “mute” which enables you to mute accounts you don’t want to see Tweets from. Now we’re expanding mute to where people need it the most: in notifications. We’re enabling you to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations you don’t want to see notifications about, rolling out to everyone in the coming days. This is a feature we’ve heard many of you ask for, and we’re going to keep listening to make it better and more comprehensive over time.
The company also says it will be retraining its support staff when it comes to handling harassment cases, and it will provide a more "direct way" to report observed abuse, not just that which is directed at you personally. (But wasn't that always the case with the "Report Tweet" function? Or does this mean they were ignoring all the reports that weren't coming from the abused target?)
Our hateful conduct policy prohibits specific conduct that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. Today we’re giving you a more direct way to report this type of conduct for yourself, or for others, whenever you see it happening. This will improve our ability to process these reports, which helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps to strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter.
Investor Mark Cuban, for one, is immediately skeptical, calling the changes "meaningless." Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded, in tweet, calling it "progress, not perfection."
@mcuban progress, not perfection. We're did a necessary reset and now going to improve every day. We're learning faster— 🚶🏽jack (@jack) November 15, 2016
Twitter has had a bit of a rocky year and recently announced a new round of layoffs, as well as the shutdown of Vine. A recent round of courting with potential big corporate buyers ended in no sale, with two of the biggest interested parties, Disney and Salesforce, both reportedly backing out over the fact that Twitter had become a hub for harassment, racism, and trollish behavior in general. High-profile cases involving celebrities, including Leslie Jones earlier this year, have helped draw attention to the issue that Twitter isn't solely the real-time news and witticism source it once was.
Back in August, the company rolled out a similarly weak new "quality filter" that is meant to serve as an auto-block feature for accounts deemed suspicious or potentially abusive, but like anything automated, it posed problems, including the inability to whitelist certain users.
As Wired puts it today, following the announcement of these small changes, "All of [these] sound like good steps the question is whether even Twitter can really stem an onslaught that has grown to global proportions."
The other question: Can Twitter reverse its downward spiral, and/or find a buyer for its "honeypot for assholes"?