Twitter – The New Safe Space

Twitter user @MattNavarra tweeted about Twitter’s new “muted words” option before it disappeared. (Photo courtesy of The Next Web).

By Mary M. Murphy 

After months of work, Twitter briefly (and possibly accidentally) unveiled a new “muted words” option on their mobile app. On Sunday, October 30, several iPhone users reported that they saw the new feature listed in the “Notifications” menu of their Twitter settings; However, it quickly disappeared. According to the Next Web, this may be because it wasn’t supposed to be released yet, but the feature has been talked about before and should be permanently implemented sometime in the near future.

Previously, Twitter has practiced a ‘hands-off’ approach when it came to harassment and offensive tweets. They allowed users to block or mute other users on the site, and users could report other users if they felt harassed by them. Despite this, Digital Trends reports that many Twitter users don’t feel safe on their site.

Several high-profile users still left the site due to verbal abuse from trolls, and even I’ve encountered hostile behavior while using the popular social media platform. Recently, my strategic social media class was harassed by trolls who discovered our class hashtag. The harassment needs to be put to an end, and Twitter has realized this. During their quarterly earnings report last Thursday, Twitter revealed that they were making changes to increase safety by adding new features and policies in the upcoming month.

One of the new features is Twitter’s “muted words” option. With this new feature, users can go into their settings and list certain words they’d like to be “muted”. Tweets that contain the user’s chosen muted words won’t show up in their newsfeed, even if they’re mentioned in the tweet. After enduring harassment from strangers on the Internet, Twitter users can finally be safe from the insensitive trolls.

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 8.14.48 PM.pngTwitter’s “muted words” feature is similar to Instagram’s new comment filter that allows users to filter out comments that contain certain keywords they don’t want to see. This feature lets users list words that they find offensive or inappropriate, and then the comments that contain those words are hidden from their posts. Users are also able to turn off comments on a post-to-post basis.

Although Twitter’s new “muted words” option was released briefly (and most likely early), it’s proof that they’ve heard the requests of their users. “Muted words” is one of the new ways Twitter is tackling the problem of insensitivity and harassment on their platform. Instead of reprimanding harassers when users report them, Twitter has decided to give their users the ability to ignore offensive tweets with the new keyword-filter feature. Trolls and insensitive users, step back from the screen – Your rude and hateful tweets won’t have much of an impact when they can’t be seen.

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism