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Twitter Introduces (Yet More) Anti-Troll Measures

Twitter is trying to move away from being the Wild West and attempting to become a civil society, with a set of tools designed to help end abuse.
Image: People holds mobile phones in front of a Twitter logo in an illustration
People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken in Warsaw on Sep. 27, 2013.Kacper Pempel / Reuters, File

Twitter is trying to move away from being the Wild West and attempting to become a civil society, with a brand new set of tools designed to help police abusive content.

For the past decade, Twitter has largely been a place where anonymous tweeters can run amok, causing mayhem with little to no consequences.

Related: What Could Happen If President Trump's Twitter Gets Hacked?

Since Twitter has proven it can't be a self-policing society, the company has been focused on weeding out abuse. A set of new rules and tools announced Wednesday is perhaps the most comprehensive effort yet to help crack down on abusive tweeters.

"We’re working to identify accounts as they’re engaging in abusive behavior, even if this behavior hasn’t been reported to us," Twitter's vice president of engineering, Ed Ho, said in a blog post. Often times, those accounts are identified by an algorithm, which Ho said they know isn't perfect.

Then Twitter is doing what any babysitter would do — putting those accounts in a timeout of sorts, allowing only their followers to see their tweets for a certain period of time.

Some users have already seen this in action after swearing at famous people. However, a Twitter representative told NBC News this feature applies to anyone who is potentially hurling bad language at someone else.

"For example, this change could come into effect if an account is repeatedly tweeting without solicitation at non-followers or engaging in patterns of abusive behavior that is in violation of the Twitter Rules," Ho wrote. "Our platform supports the freedom to share any viewpoint, but if an account continues to repeatedly violate the Twitter Rules, we will consider taking further action."

In November, Twitter launched a mute feature that lets users filter out words, phrases and conversations they did not want to see in their notifications. Building on that, Twitter will now let you decide what to mute from your home timeline — and for how long.

Twitter is also handing more control to people who don't want to deal with Twitter troublemakers. You'll now be able to filter out people who don't have profile photos or do not have verified email addresses or phone numbers — usually indicators that someone may be a troll.

Perhaps one of the biggest frustrations for some people on Twitter has been reporting abusive tweets and then seeing nothing done about it — or not knowing the resolution.

Twitter is now trying to close the loop on some of those cases, promising more "transparency and openness of our reporting process." You'll be able to check on these reports in the notifications tab on the app.

"You’ll start to hear more from us about accounts or tweets that you’ve reported to our support teams — both when you report harassment directed at you or another account," Ho said.