Twitter is adding a few new features and clarifying a few of its rules in response to rape threats, bomb threats, and other general abusiveness that’s hit the site lately – specifically involving European authors, Members of Parliament, and journalists.
However, don’t expect the updates to make major airwaves in the U.S., as Twitter isn’t likely to post the changes its making to the service – described on a post to the Twitter UK blog — to its counterpart blog for American users.
“Over the past week, we’ve been listening to your feedback on how we can improve our service. You told us that we need to make our rules clearer, simplify our abuse reporting process, and promote the responsible use of Twitter,” wrote Twitter senior director Del Harvey and UK general manager Tony Wang.
The major change to Twitter’s online service is that the company will now be adding a “report button” – analogous to what’s found on the iOS Twitter app or on the mobile Twitter site — that will allow users to more quickly flag Twitter messages instead of having to fill out a complicated and lengthy form for each Twitter user that’s being abusive.
Over the past week, Twitter representatives have hinted that the new feature would be added to the site; the blog post clarifies that Twitter’s looking to deploy the “report” button on both its Android app and the general Twitter.com site “starting next month.”
The move comes in response to a large online petition that was started as a result of some Twitter users’ harassment of Caroline Criado-Perez, a freelance journalist who successfully spearheaded a campaign to have author Jane Austen featured on a new version of the £10 note.
Additionally, Journalist Caitlin Moran took to Twitter to call for a 24-hour boycott of the service starting on August 4, asking users to Tweet “waiting for a troll solution” in an effort to encourage the company to more strongly address issues of identifying and reporting abuse. It’s fitting that Twitter’s official announcement about its changes sneaks in right before the date of the boycott.
Twitter’s second major change is that it has updated its Twitter Rules to describe, in greater specificity, just what constitutes as “abuse” when using the site. A new section within its “Abuse and Spam” category describes what Twitter calls “Targeted Abuse,” which includes blasting a user with Tweets from multiple accounts or single-handedly using an account to abuse users – the classic Twitter troll.