Will Twitter’s New Plan to Combat Harassment Disproportionately Target Conservatives?

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By Kyle Foley | 12:57 pm, November 15, 2016

Harassment on Twitter has always existed, but in the last year it has become more visible than ever. In fact, it even stopped potential buyers from purchasing the social media network earlier this year.

After facing months of criticism, Twitter is finally making changes to tackle the worse of online abuse. The first change Twitter is making is an update to their mute feature. Before, users could only mute a user specifically. Now, users can mute keywords as well as specific conversations. In implementing this, Twitter is finally listening to its user base. “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.”

Another improvement they are making is a change to the reporting system. Currently, the process to report abusive behavior requires work from the person reporting the incident. Now Twitter is making it possible to report tweets directly, shortening the process.

According to Twitter, their “hateful conduct policy prohibits specific conduct that targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease.” And they are hoping these new policies help prevent that.

Twitter says they have “improved our internal tools and systems in order to deal more effectively with this conduct when it’s reported to us” and that their “goal is a faster and more transparent process.”

But Twitter also recognizes that this won’t be an overnight solution to the bigger problem. “We don’t expect these announcements to suddenly remove abusive conduct from Twitter. No single action by us would do that,” they said. “Instead we commit to rapidly improving Twitter based on everything we observe and learn.”

One fear among conservatives, however, is that it could also lead to an increase in the number of people banned or censored for “wrongthink.” While Twitter says they hope to make the process as transparent as possible, their history shows this could be anything but. Conservatives have every right to fear this when left-leaning provocateurs have been left untouched while people like Milo Yiannopolous and Glenn Reynolds have been silenced for their thoughts in the past.

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