Twitter’s vice president of engineering, Ed Ho, has promised to make changes to the service to combat harassment as soon as this week. Speaking on Twitter, Ho said that the company would be rolling out a number of product changes “in the days ahead,” including “long overdue fixes to mute/block” features, and new measures designed stop serial abusers from creating new accounts.
Ho said that making Twitter safer was the company’s primary focus at the moment, and acknowledged its failures in the past to protect users from threats, insults, and other harassment. “We heard you, we didn't move fast enough last year,” Ho wrote in a threaded series of tweets. “Now we're thinking about progress in days and hours not weeks and months.”
This week, we'll tackle long overdue fixes to mute/block and stopping repeat offenders from creating new accounts.— Ed Ho (@mrdonut) January 31, 2017
The comments were retweeted by Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, who said that the company was taking “a completely new approach to abuse on Twitter.” Dorsey also promised more open and real-time discussion between Twitter itself and its users.
We're taking a completely new approach to abuse on Twitter. Including having a more open & real-time dialogue about it every step of the way https://t.co/a1SV7URPEK— jack (@jack) January 31, 2017
The specific changes Twitter plans to make over the next few days weren’t outlined, but Ho said some of them would be more visible than others. He also called for feedback, saying that Twitter would keep users updated as to the changes, and was listening to responses. “We’ll listen, learn and keep shipping until we’ve made a significant impact that people can feel,” he wrote.
We heard you, we didn't move fast enough last year; now we're thinking about progress in days and hours not weeks and months.— Ed Ho (@mrdonut) January 31, 2017
Twitter has suffered due to its achingly slow reaction to harassment in the past, allowing offenders to remain on the service for years, and waving off clear cases of abuse for apparently not breaching the terms and conditions of the site. The company has made some minor efforts to change this pattern in the past, finally banning notoriously noxious figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and Martin Shkreli, but has so far failed to come up with any coherent strategy to deal with harassers. Hopefully the changes Ho is promising will come sooner rather than later, and afford Twitter users the protections they’re currently lacking.