Especially over the past year, levels of harassment have reached a fevered pitch. Although executives with Twitter have taken some action, they are now providing users with a new tool that will have a significant impact. Unfortunately, Twitter, among other social media sites, have done poorly when it comes to policing content. Advocates have been arguing for some time that Twitter users should have control over tweets they see and now, it appears that company executives agree.
Twitter just announced that a new user tool is being added, which makes it possible for users to share block lists. With this tool, users can export and share their own block lists with other people in their community who are also dealing with harassment issues. In addition, another user’s block list can be imported into a person’s own account. Opposed to blocking one individual at a time, the tool allows numerous accounts to be blocked simultaneously.
Although critics love the new user’s tool they still feel there is plenty of room for improvement. Certainly giving people a better way to fight harassment on Twitter is a step in the right direction but they hope for more to come. For example, they would like for additional platforms to understand the providing users with control is extremely important in the fight against harassment.
According to a Twitter spokesperson, the new tool allows users to create .csv files that contain block lists. Currently, the process for sharing the files with other users has to be done manually but once shared people can then import the files. After being imported, virtually every Twitter user on the list is automatically blocked.
The company notes that in comparing Block Together and other similar programs, the new Twitter user tool is static. In other words, to use other tools, an individual must be a subscriber to the associated service.
When a user subscribes to another person’s list, updates are provided automatically from within that list. Therefore, if the creator of the list adds someone new, that user is blocked for every subscriber automatically. The same is true if the creator chooses to unblock someone in that the user is unblocked for everyone.
With the new Twitter tool, after the block list file has been imported, any changes made by the person from whom the list was originally imported will never be revealed. If someone wants to know who has been blocked most recently, the creator has to be asked. In addition, to receive another user’s block list, a request of the creator must be made. Simply put, with the Twitter tool, sharing lists is not done automatically as with subscriber services.
At this point, one really knows how effective this new Twitter user’s tool will be in combating harassment but by giving users more control should have a positive impact. The challenge is that while this type of tool can be beneficial, there is also risk of it being misused.
However, this is a good move on behalf of Twitter and as part of the announcement the company spokesperson said additional user controls are currently being developed. The company anticipates better and more advanced blocking tools will make the Twitter experience more efficient and enjoyable.