Twitter says it’s taking steps to make its users safer

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Twitter is going to tighten up its safety controls, it has announced on its blog. The move follows numerous reports (for example this one) of the company looking for a buyer and failing to attract one.

Some commentators have seen the new safety mechanisms as a direct response to the search for a new owner; it’s entirely possible that they’re just new safety mechanisms.

There are already new ways of reporting abusive tweets and managing what you can see. These will now be joined by:

  • Stopping the creation of abusive accounts by flagging people who have already been barred and preventing them setting up again under a new identity;
  • Increasing the safety of search results so that sensitive tweets don’t come up as frequently as they sometimes have
  • Possibly most contentiously, the promotion of high quality tweets – or as Twitter puts it, “identifying and collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality replies” so that only the better ones appear in searches. This doesn’t mean deleting them, just de-prioritising them so that they don’t come up first in someone’s search.

The idea is to make the network a safer and more informative place. There are potential issues, though: for example, in theory the collapse of low quality Tweets is good and there will be some examples in which the quality is beyond dispute. However, there will also be the more contentious sort, and the question of who gets to decide what is “high quality” is an important one not addressed by Twitter’s blog post.

Presumably some of these new strictures will be a worry if you’re president of the USA – yes, we know everyone else has said more or less the same thing but we couldn’t resist it. Seriously, though, if you call someone a “so-called judge” who’s going to say that’s high-quality debate?