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Twitter kills off latest safety update after wave of negative feedback

Twitter is evidently listening to its community when it comes to tackling its abuse problem. The company proved that on Monday when it appraised a safety update it had released just hours earlier after the site’s users criticized it. Twitter followed up in a matter of hours by tweeting that it had taken the viewpoints on board and decided to shelve the feature.

Its original announcement declared it would no longer notify users when they were added to a list. Despite being primarily used as a way to organize feeds by interests, lists can theoretically be used to abuse or intimidate people on the site (for example, someone could add a user to a list with a derogatory title purely for the sake of harassment).

The original tweet announcing the update quickly generated negative replies, with users pointing out that list notifications were actually a useful feature.

We want you to get notifications that matter. Starting today, you won't get notified when you are added to a list.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 13, 2017

“Being added to a list and knowing what list you were added to was literally the last useful thing about Twitter,” tweeted reporter Anthony Quintano. “This is sweeping a problem under the rug and ruining a good feature at the same time,” he added in another tweet.

Another popular Twitter user @SwiftOnSecurity, chimed in by offering an alternative method. “The correct approach is to allow people to remove themselves from lists or do it upon blocking the owner,” responded the account, which boasts over 166,000 followers. “Critical for people to know if they’ve been added to a list intended for targets. This is blinding the vulnerable.”

.@TwitterSafety @Support Critical for people to know if they've been added to a list intended for targets. This is blinding the vulnerable.

— SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) February 13, 2017

The tweet essentially summed up the problem with the update: by removing the notifications, people wouldn’t be able to identify and block the accounts that had added them to the offensive lists in the first place. Seeing as the site’s recent set of safety updates have included improvements to its blocking feature, the measure also seemed out of tune with its efforts.

In a matter of hours, Twitter engineering vice president Ed Ho — who has championed the company’s renewed commitment to countering abuse — replied to several disgruntled users that the platform was reversing the change. And, just like that, the Twitter Safety account followed up with a tweet claiming the update was a “misstep,” and that it was “rolling [it] back.” The official account added, “we’ll keep listening.”

@EricaJoy @TwitterSafety @Support @peterseibel Reconsidered and reversing. Thanks for the feedback.

— Ed Ho (@mrdonut) February 13, 2017

We heard your feedback – this was a misstep. We’re rolling back the change and we’ll keep listening.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) February 13, 2017

Last week, the platform rolled out its strongest anti-abuse measures in months by introducing a new “safe search” tool, and hiding offensive tweets from conversations. Ho, along with CEO Jack Dorsey, previously tweeted that more updates were being readied for the weeks ahead.

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