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Twitter’s “Mute” Feature Helps Users Combat Cyber Bullies

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Twitter on Wednesday unveiled new tools for users to combat harassment and hate speech on its site.

The microblogging platform has expanded its “mute” feature, allowing all users to turn off notifications for specific conversations as well as tweets containing keywords or phrases such as racial slurs or profanity the user doesn’t want to view.

Now, users will be able to mute keywords, phrases and conversations they don’t want to get notifications about. Users who decide to mute things won’t see them.

The new feature according to the company is in response to mounting criticism that the company is not doing enough to combat harassment on its platform.

Abuse can easily spread on Twitter due to its public, real-time nature, where tweets are easily amplified by retweets and users can easily and openly attack others.

“Because Twitter happens in public and in real-time, we’ve had some challenges keeping up with and curbing abusive conduct,” Twitter said in a blog post.

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

“This is a feature we’ve heard many of you ask for, and we’re going to keep listening to make it better and more comprehensive over time,” the blog post added.

The change will be rolled out to users in the coming days.

Twitter is also making it easier to directly report hateful activity that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease; and the company said it has boosted its ability to more quickly and reliably process these reports.

“We’re giving you a more direct way to report this type of conduct for yourself, or for others, whenever you see it happening. This will improve our ability to process these reports, which helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse,” the statement read.

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The San Francisco, California company further noted that it had retrained its internal support teams and improved internal systems to deal with user reports of online abuse “more effectively” through a “faster and more transparent process”.

According to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic hate speech targeting journalists had rapidly risen on Twitter and intensified over the course of the US presidential race.