Pando

Twitter keeps Dick Costolo's promise with new anti-harassment tools

By Nathaniel Mott , written on February 27, 2015

From The News Desk

Dick Costolo wasn't kidding when he said Twitter would better handle abuse in the future.

The company has introduced new features -- one which allows its users to report when others are posting their personal information and another which requires trolls to verify their phone numbers or email addresses with the service -- to address its harassment problem.

The first feature might have the most immediate impact. Sharing personal information about someone is a common intimidation tactic on the social Web, to the point where it has a nickname like "doxxing," and making it easy to get that information taken down is an undoubtedly good thing.

But the second feature, while it will help mitigate the problem of trolls creating multiple accounts with which they can harass their targets, doesn't seem quite as effective. As the Verge explained in a post about how the feature doesn't fix Twitter's "whack-a-mole" issue:

Twitter does not require new users to provide a phone number when they sign up — and so a user who was banned, and decided to create a new account, could do so even if they had harassed users previously. But if that user began to harass again — as many committed trolls on Twitter do — Twitter can then ask them to verify their email address and phone number, and if it's on a list of banned accounts, that user could be suspended permanently.
These new features, combined with Reddit's decision to bar its users from sharing nude images without their subjects' consent, might just make the social Web a better place. It's not perfect, and social media can still be vile, but at least the issue is being taken seriously.

[illustration by Brad Jonas]