Mute button: Twitter is finally taking a major step in tackling abuse

Lynsey Barber
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Song For The Mute - Backstage - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia 2014
Twitter is widely seen as having a troll problem (Source: Getty)

Twitter has just taken a major step forward in trying to tackle the problem online abuse and trolling on the social network.

It is rolling out a mute button which can be used to silence conversations, keywords and phrases, something long demanded by users who have only been able to block accounts before.

And it looks like Twitter has finally admitted that its reputation as a place where harassment can take place is bad for business.

Read more: MPs have blasted Twitter over failure to tackle anti-Semitism

In a blog post, the company said: "The amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment we've seen across the Internet has risen sharply over the past few years."

"These behaviours inhibit people from participating on Twitter, or anywhere," it said.

"Abusive conduct removes the chance to see and share all perspectives around an issue, which we believe is critical to moving us all forward. In the worst cases, this type of conduct threatens human dignity, which we should all stand together to protect."

The expansion of the mute button means users are able to block certain things from their notifications.

It also said it was giving users "a more direct way" to report conduct that's considered hateful under its policies.

Read more: Twitter just announced it's killing its Vine video app

"This will improve our ability to process these reports, which helps reduce the burden on the person experiencing the abuse, and helps to strengthen a culture of collective support on Twitter," the company said, adding that it had improved training for staff about how to handle complaints and enforce policies.

"Our goal is a faster and more transparent process," it said.

"We don't expect these announcements to suddenly remove abusive conduct from Twitter. No single action by us would do that. Instead we commit to rapidly improving Twitter based on everything we observe and learn."

MPs blasted Twitter over its failure to tackle anti-Semitism in a scathing report which singled out the struggling social.

The issue of online abuse was reportedly one of the reasons potential suitors were put off bidding for Twitter when it was nearing the first stage of a potential sale.

The comes as Facebook and Google face pressure over their role in letting fake news be disseminated during the Presidential election campaign. Both have now said they will curb adverts shown against such content so creators are not incentivised by revenue they get from it.

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