Twitter Targets Trolls That Threaten Violence By Automatically Locking Down Abusive Tweets

Twitter CEO Disk Costolo admitted about his microblogging service that "we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," which he followed up with a vow to be more aggressive in eliminating that kind of unwanted behavior. Taking a step towards fulfilling that promise, Twitter has made some changes to its violent threats policy.

Prior to the policy change, the prohibition on violent threats was limited "direct, specific threats of violence against others." It's now been reworded to include "threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others," which Twitter says better describes the range of prohibited content and reflects its original intention when drawing up the rules.

Twitter Abuse

In addition to expanding its violent threats policy, Twitter also gave itself greater enforcement powers. Specifically, Twitter's support team now has the ability to lock abusive accounts for set periods of time, and can still require abusive members to delete content or verify their phone number.

"This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people," Twitter said.

Lastly, Twitter's begun testing out a new feature that's supposed to help identify suspected abusive tweets and limit their reach. It does this by looking at a wide range of signals and contexts typically associated with abusive tweets -- factors such as the age of the account and the similarity of a tweet to known abusive content both factor into the equation.