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Monday, July 29, 2013

Twitter Will Make It Easier to Report Abusive Posts

Twitter announced on Monday that it would add a button to report abusive tweets to all major versions of its software, making it easier for users to report offensive messages that have been posted on the site.

The company’s announcement follows an online petition campaign urging Twitter to make such changes. The petition began after a British social activist, Caroline Criado-Perez, complained publicly last week that she had been the target of a stream of nasty posts, including rape threats, for her work trying to get more women featured on British banknotes. (The police have arrested one suspected harasser, according to the BBC.)

In a blog post titled “We hear you,” Del Harvey, Twitter’s senior director for trust and safety, said it would be impossible for the company to monitor all of the 400 million tweets posted to the service every day. “That said, we are not blind to the reality that there will always be people using Twitter in ways that are abusive and may harm others,” Ms. Harvey wrote.

She noted that Twitter already had a system for reporting complaints of abuse or other violations of its terms of service. But that requires filling out a laborious form.

Three weeks ago, the microblogging service added a “Report tweet” button to the iPhone, iPad and mobile browser versions of its site to make it easier to report abusive or spam tweets or block users. Now, she said, the company will extend that function to the desktop Web and Android versions of Twitter.

A Twitter spokesman, Jim Prosser, declined to discuss Ms. Criado-Perez’s personal situation.But he said all complaints of abuse were reviewed by a person on Twitter’s trust and safety team.

“We’ll always provide some kind of resolution,” he said. If abuse is found, the service will contact the person who posted the item and ask for it to be removed, or in more extreme cases, temporarily suspend the account or shut it down.

Twitter also offers other suggestions to its users for dealing with abusive tweets, like blocking individual users or unfollowing offensive accounts. In cases of threats, the company recommends that users go to the police, which Ms. Criado-Perez did.

Twitter, which has worked to establish a reputation as a forum for anonymous free speech, has been reluctant to silence users who post items that are unpopular. “We hope the public understands the balances we’re trying to strike as we continue to work to make our systems and processes better,” Ms. Harvey wrote.