Twitter has a troll problem. Even its CEO knows it. And now the company is doing more to prevent its users suffering abuse and threats on its service.
In a bid to make improvements, Twitter has announced new measures to expand the process for reporting user safety concerns, and a system that uses phone numbers to prevent those who repeatedly harass others from creating new accounts.
The Verge reported that Twitter will begin tracking phone numbers for known trolls. The problem here is that serial trolls can easily (and quickly) open new accounts and resume their harassment if Twitter shuts their account down. Identifying them by their phone number can help track these efforts to start over, and ultimately keep them and their vitriolic behavior off of the service.
Twitter currently makes associating an account with a phone number optional, but The Verge said that in cases where a user is found to be harassing others, their account may be temporarily banned until they provide their number. That number (and the email address used to register the account) would then be checked against a list of known trolls to decide whether a full ban is necessary. It’s not a perfect solution — the troll could abandon the banned account and open a new one without supplying a number — but it is certainly a positive step forward.
Twitter is also expanding an initiative from last year that allowed bystanders to report abuse — previously it was limited to the victim only. Now it is taking that same approach for instances of self-harm, impersonation, and the publishing of private information.
The company revealed that it has tripled the size of its support team in line with its increased focus on safety. In particular, Twitter said that it now sees five times more reports after it began allowing third parties to flag abuses.