Twitter just announced new features to crack down on its endemic abuse problem

Twitter just unveiled a raft of new features designed to rid the social network of its endemic abuse problem.

In a blog announcing the plans, Twitter admitted it has experienced “challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct.”

“We took a step back to reset and take a new approach, find and focus on the most critical needs, and rapidly improve,” it said.

The new features are designed to improve its controls, reporting, and enforcement. They include:

  • A new ‘mute’ feature. This will allow users to mute keywords, phrases, and even entire conversations. Twitter said it’s a tool “we’ve heard many of you ask for” and builds on the ability to mute accounts.
  • More “direct” reporting of online abuse. This will enable users to be more specific about the abuse they are reporting. They will be able to select from a number options that tell Twitter if a post contains things including hate, offensive material, personal information, and physical threats.
  • Tougher enforcement. Twitter said it has retrained all of its internal support teams. It has also improved “internal tools and systems” in order to deal with abuse reports more effectively. “Our goal is a faster and more transparent process,” it said.

Twitter said the improvements will not be a quick fix. “We don’t expect these announcements to suddenly remove abusive conduct from Twitter. No single action by us would do that. Instead we commit to rapidly improving Twitter based on everything we observe and learn,” it said.

Chief executive Jack Dorsey admitted in July that the company has not been good enough at tackling abuse. It followed a torrent of racist and sexualised messages targeting “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones, which culminated in ringleader, the conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos, being booted off Twitter for good.

As well as infuriating users, the abuse has reportedly caused corporate damage. When a highly touted sale never materialised earlier this year, it was blamed in part on the fact that Twitter’s abuse problem repelled suitors including Disney.

Twitter’s explainer on how its new features work:

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