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Twitter beefs up tools to fight trolls

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Twitter says it’s implementing changes to make it easier for its users to report abuse while at the same time rolling out improvements to its ‘block’ feature. The move follows increasing pressure on the company following a number of high-profile cases of harassment on the service.

“We’re improving the reporting process to make it much more mobile-friendly, require less initial information, and, overall, make it simpler to flag Tweets and accounts for review,” Twitter’s Shreyas Doshi wrote in a post announcing the enhancements, adding that the changes will also make the reporting procedure easier for those who come across abuse directed at others.

The Twitter team charged with dealing with reports of abuse has also reviewed its own procedures, and should now respond in a more timely fashion, Doshi said.

Relentless abuse directed toward some Twitter users – both those in the public eye with millions of followers and general users with far fewer – has led many to quit the microblogging service in disgust, with a number of them urging Twitter to do more to deal with harassment.

A tipping point appeared to come over the summer when Zelda Williams left the service following abuse related to her actor father who’d ended his life just a few days earlier. Twitter said at the time it was evaluating its policies “to better handle tragic situations like this one.”

Another high-profile case, this time in the UK, involved a Twitter user threatening a UK lawmaker with rape and resulted in a 33-year-old man receiving a four-month jail term in September. More recently, Gamergate highlighted the issue of abuse on social media sites.

This week’s Twitter update is currently being tried out with a small number of users, and will be rolled out to all in the coming weeks. Doshi added that Twitter is “nowhere near being done making changes in this area,” with further enhancements set to be introduced early next year.

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