For years, Twitter has been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the harassment problem rife on the social network. Now, it is tackling the issue head on.

The social network has introduced three new tools to stop users being bullied while online including stopping the creation of new abusive accounts, introducing safer searches and collapsing abusive tweets.

Announcing the features in a blog post, Twitter said making the website a “safer place is our primary focus” and it “won’t tolerate” harassment.

To stop accounts being created to specifically attack users, Twitter added it is “taking steps” to identify who has been suspended and not allow them to make a new account. It did not go into more detail on how it intends to do this.

“We’re also working on ‘safe search’ which removes Tweets that contain potentially sensitive content and Tweets from blocked and muted accounts from search results,” Twitter said.

The third update involves stopping all parts of conversations between users and @ replies from being seen. Jack Dorsey’s firm said it will collapse “potentially abusive and low-quality replies” to tweets.

Before the announcements, Ed Ho, Twitter’s vice president of engineering, said there will be a number of “long overdue fixes” to the website. “Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus and we are now moving with more urgency than ever,” Ho said in a post. “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.”

Some of the changes will not be explicitly noticeable among those using Twitter, Ho says, but others will be fairly obvious. Initially, the changes will focus on the mute and block features. Repeat offenders will also be prevented from creating new accounts after being suspended.

When Dorsey asked users what Twitter should change in 2017, many requested better anti-harassment tools. One user, @amberdiscko, asked for “more visibility into how harassment reports are handled”, as well as preventative measures for repeat offenders.

Twitter has had a problem with harassment for years. High-profile celebrities and activists have been forced to leave the social network after suffering abuse.

In July 2016, Dorsey said abuse “doesn’t have a place on Twitter”. This followed former CEO Dick Costolo telling staff in an email in 2015 that there was a serious issue with abuse. One study, published in May 2016, revealed more than 200,000 aggressive tweets were posted by 86,500 users over a three-week period.


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