Twitter Boosts Cyberbullying Tools, Sees Melania Trump as Ally

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Twitter is trying to curb bullying in the Twitterverse.

New tools on Twitter’s platform aim to combat the rising trend of online abuse the company has seen, Twitter said in a Nov. 15 blog post.

Social media platforms have been under increased public scrutiny for offensive and abusive user posts following an election cycle steeped in digital mudslinging.  Melania Trump, wife of President-elect Donald Trump, has said combatting cyberbullying will be her focus while in the White House.

Twitter users will now be able to block, or “mute,” notifications of Tweets containing keywords or phrases they select, or that are part of a conversation string, the company said. The site already allows users to block entire accounts from which they don’t want to see Tweets.

The platform will also make it easier to report Tweets that target others on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease, the blog post said. Twitter has retrained its staff to identify possible cultural and historical contexts of abusive Tweets and will host women and minorities in conversations about combatting cyberbullying.

Weeding out harassment in the Twitter world is a tall order for a platform that sees 313 million active users a month, according to company data. The volume of posts and subjective process of identify abuse is hard to scale with limited staff. Blocking content can lead to counter complaints of censorship.

The site hopes this move is a way to empower users to play a role, Bridget Coyne, senior manager on Twitter’s government and politics team, said during a panel discussion on social media and the election in Washington D.C. Nov. 15.

Coyne said she thinks Melania Trump will be a proponent of the company’s plan, and that Twitter will continue to prioritize strategies to confront online abuse.

“We want our platform to be a place of free speech, and safety and enjoyment,” Coyne said.