Twitter gets new feature that can automatically block trolls

Safety mode in Twitter
(Image credit: Twitter)

Twitter has been looking into how it can stifle trolls and abusive accounts more effectively, which is where a new Safety Mode comes in, rolling out to a small group of testers on iOS, Android and its website.

Having an account on any social media site has its risks of abuse from accounts that have the sole objective of trolling.

As Twitter finds ways into how it can sustain itself through Super Follows and Ticked Spaces, it also needs to make sure that users feel safe on the platform. While it’s taken longer than some users have hoped, auto-blocking troll accounts could be a good first step. 

How does Safety mode benefit you?

You can go to Settings > Privacy and Safety, where a new Safety Mode option will be available if you’ve been selected to test the feature out.

Switching this on will enable an algorithm to spot any accounts that are sending abuse to genuine users. If it does spot anything, it will automatically block these users on your account, as long as you don’t follow them and haven’t interacted with them.

See more

“Throughout the product development process, we conducted several listening and feedback sessions for trusted partners with expertise in online safety, mental health, and human rights, including members of our Trust and Safety Council.” Jarrod Doherty, Senior Product Designer at Twitter explained in a blogpost.

“Their feedback influenced adjustments to make Safety Mode easier to use and helped us think through ways to address the potential manipulation of our technology. These trusted partners also played an important role in nominating Twitter account owners to join the feedback group, prioritizing people from marginalized communities and female journalists.”

While it’s available for a small group of testers for now, the company expects to roll this feature out soon to all users across its apps and website.

Analysis: Progress, but there’s more to be done

Leaving an algorithm to decide which accounts should and should not be blocked could be risky business for a user, especially if someone is receiving torrents of abuse from multiple accounts.

Users can already manually mute words and accounts to make their timelines more pleasant, however Twitter has been slow to respond to abusive tweets that many users have been experiencing across the years.

While Safety Mode is a step in the right direction, it may need to be in testing for a longer period of time compared to Twitter’s other new features to make sure that the right accounts are being blocked, and at a rapid pace.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.