Twitter planning ‘regular and consistent action’ to curb harassment and abuse

In another push to tackle abuse and menaces on the network, Twitter is introducing expert security council to answer in fullest and most nuanced way

Twitter will do more to tackle harassment and abuse on its network, the company has said, as it announces a new security council made up of specialist charities and a slate of new anti-harassment features that will roll out through 2016.

Twitter UKs head of policy, Nick Pickles, used to say the global council would include the mental health charity the Samaritans, the advice charity the Safer Internet Centre, and the Internet Watch Foundation, functional specialists organisation that deals with criminal content including child abuse material.

I dont think we will have all the answers, but it is important to seek expertise in these still very young issues, he told. We want to make sure we hear different views and think about these challenges in the most comprehensive and most nuanced way.

Pickles said there wouldnt be one particular security project but regular and consistent action through the year. This comes from the top of the company safety is never finished.

Twitter has been heavily criticised for failing to provide adequate and responsive protections for users who have been the subject of extreme abuse or threats. Laws in the UK offer user some protection against most extreme harassment and several people have been incarcerated, yet most countries, including the US, have no such protections.

Twitter, which watches an average 500 m individual tweets every day, has struggled to strike a balance between letting free speech and protecting users from abusive commentaries. Former CEO Dick Costolo told staff in 2015 that Twitter needed to do more. We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and weve sucked at it for years, he wrote in an internal memo.

Safety and freedom of speech go hand in hand, Pickles told. The unique thing about Twitter as a public platform is that what I have to say can be seen by anyone anywhere in the world, and it has the power to challenge views. Twitters sum is greater than its parts.

Pickles told Twitters users had to have the confidence to speak out on subjects that mattered to them without the threat of being stillness by the mob, and said this is an everyday deliberation among personnel.

While the issue of abusive and aggressive messages has been an important one for Twitter, the company is also facing its own torrent of abusive messages from users angry at proposed changes to the service, including letting tweets of up to 10,000 characters from the present limit of 140, and changing the order of messages in the timeline.

In the latest round of complaints tagged #RIPTwitter and trending on the site for at least a day some users rounded on one low-profile Twitter employee who conveyed shock at being targeted with negative messages about the changes.

Brandon Carpenter (@ bhcarpenter) February 6, 2016

Wow people on Twitter are mean

Emma Brooks (@ ejbrooks) February 6, 2016

. @bhcarpenter Like why girls have been asking and asking for better tools to manage harassment and abuse?

Sarah Brown (@ CloveHitched) February 6, 2016

. @bhcarpenter Imagine what it’s like for a transgender woman with 6,000 followers

I have over TWENTY THOUSAND people blocked.

Jack (@ jack) February 6, 2016

Thank you all for your passion and trust. We will continue to work to earn it, and we will continue to listen, and talk!

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