Twitter introduced a mute button Tuesday to silence bullies on the social media in another effort to protect its users from violence initiated by others. The new feature will let users mute notifications with the words and phrases they consider abusive.

The new mute button will also work in other Twitter services in the future to make the platform as safe as possible. The idea came as a response to Twitter users who told the company that verbal violence was getting out of control. Twitter has been struggling with trolls, extremists, and even terrorists that use the platform to share messages of hate toward certain groups.

Leslie Jones, Twitter
Ghostbusters star, Leslie Jones, has publicly defended herself from racist and hateful remarks on Twitter. She decided to temporarily suspend her Twitter account on July 18, 2016. Image credit: NBC/Twitter.

The mute button lets you create specific lists of words, phrases and even emojis that you do not want to see in your Twitter notifications.

The feature allows you to avoid hateful comments from any other user in an effort to stop verbal violence on the platform. The new button is similar to the option Instagram made available to let users block comments containing certain words.

Minorities are constantly targeted with tweets containing harassing words, and Twitter is trying to protect all of its users from that kind of violence. But people think the company has not done enough. The newest Twitter feature came after the presidential campaign, which ignited a series of attacks against minorities.

The elections and haters on Twitter are not an isolated event. Last year, the social media had to ban “hateful conduct” because some users were targeting others with violent messages. Twitter considers “hateful conduct” the promotion of violence and direct attacks or threats to other users because of their race, ethnicity or other segregationist reasons.

Twitter’s vice president, Del Harvey, stated that notifications were a priority when the company analyzed users feedback. According to the surveys, people on Twitter did not have as much control as they would like to when it comes to notifications. People enjoying the network’s services do not ask for notifications, which are even more unpleasant when containing aggressive content. Thus, Twitter launched the new mute button; Harvey told The Washington Post in an interview.

Twitter is silencing bullies, but it is challenging not to limit speech

The network is trying to silence hate speeches, but at the same time, it is struggling with freedom of speech. Harvey stated that she understands why some users are frustrated because Twitter seems not to be working as fast as it should against trolls on the network. She explained that not crossing the line and limit speech has been a serious obstacle.

Twitter is trying to shut down violent users on the platform without disrespecting people’s right to express themselves. The company has thoughtfully analyzed which mechanisms are best to face the trolls without silencing those who are not violent on the social media.

A big issue that affects the process of banning an account from Twitter for “hateful conduct” is culture. Harvey told in her interview with The Washington Post that Twitter is regularly training its employees to recognize forms of abuse better, but what might be a joke from one culture can be a major insult for the other.

There has been evidence posted by Twitter users that show how the platform’s team rejects abuse reports that are clearly, for some, violating the company’s rules. For this reason, Harley said that the network is adding another component to train its staff on how to recognize abusive behavior: a historical and cultural context.

Twitter is teaching its employees why a tweet or notification can be considered harassment in one culture and not in another. History and culture are vital to achieve the company’s goal against bullies.  Harley said that the platform would also keep its abuse team updated regarding the evolving language used in hate speech.

Source: The Washinton Post