Twitter unveils Safety Mode to temporarily block abuse

1 September 2021, 17:04

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Technology Stock. Picture: PA

The social media giant has begun testing the new tool with a small group of users.

Twitter has unveiled a feature that will allow users to temporarily block accounts that are sending them abuse.

The social media platform announced it has begun testing Safety Mode, which once turned on will block accounts and content for seven days that Twitter’s systems spot using harmful language or sending repetitive, uninvited replies.

The announcement comes as the firm, and wider social media, continues to face questions over how to better protect users from online abuse following a number of high-profile incidents, including the targeting of black England footballers during Euro 2020.

Turned on via the Twitter settings, Safety Mode will assess the likelihood of an interaction between two users being negative based on the context of the tweets in question, as well as any existing relationship they may have – with Twitter confirming that accounts a user already follows or frequently interacts with will not be automatically blocked.

Those accounts which are autoblocked by the tool will be temporarily unable to follow a user, see their tweets or send them direct messages.

Twitter said it will keep information about the tweets flagged through Safety Modes so that users can view those details at any time if they wish.

The tool will also allow users to undo autoblocks at any time themselves if they feel Twitter has made a mistake.

“We want you to enjoy healthy conversations, so this test is one way we’re limiting overwhelming and unwelcome interactions that can interrupt those conversations,” Twitter’s product lead Jarrod Doherty said in a blog post.

“Our goal is to better protect the individual on the receiving end of tweets by reducing the prevalence and visibility of harmful remarks.”

Instagram has recently introduced a similar tool called Limits, which enables users to temporarily restrict unwanted interactions.

For now, Twitter said its Safety Mode will be tested among a small feedback group on iOS, Android and desktop.

“While we have made strides in giving people greater control over their safety experience on Twitter, there is always more to be done,” Twitter’s head of UK public policy Katy Minshall said.

“As part of our work in this space, today we’re introducing Safety Mode; a feature that allows you to automatically reduce disruptive interactions on Twitter, which in turn improves the health of the public conversation.

“Today’s rollout will be to a limited feedback group, so we can gain key insights ahead of a wider launch.

“We want to incorporate this feedback to ensure that the safety tools we’re developing truly empower people and make them feel comfortable engaging in the public conversation.”

By Press Association

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