Twitter will be making two new policy changes. One is related to prohibited content. The other is about how they will enforce certain policy violations. The goal is to reduce the amount of abuse that Twitter users could find themselves subjected to.
More specifically, they have updated their violent threats policy. It now extends to “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.” This change broadens the previous policy so that it is not limited to “direct, specific threats of violence against others”.
Twitter is also going to take steps to enforce penalties upon those who violate Twitter’s policies. Their support team has been given additional enforcement options that gives them the ability to lock abusive accounts for specific periods of time. Twitter’s blog further explains: “This option gives us leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people”.
In short, Twitter can lock a user’s account if he or she violates the Twitter Rules. Twitter can actually give users a timer “countdown” that shows exactly how long it will be before a person can use their Twitter account again. Personally, I think that this delay will effectively remove the instant gratification that some people appear to get from harassing others on Twitter. They won’t be able to fire off the next unpleasant comment – they have to wait.
Once the “countdown” ends, Twitter might ask the user to enter their phone number. An SMS with a verification code will be sent to that phone number. The Twitter account won’t be unlocked until the person is able to send Twitter the SMS code. After that clears, it is possible that Twitter will require a person to delete the Tweet (or Tweets) that got them in trouble in the first place. Don’t want to delete that Tweet? The account stays locked.
Twitter is also testing a new product feature that will help them identify suspected abusive Tweets and to limit their reach. The feature “takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive.”
My impression is that this new feature will be able to notice that a brand new “egg account” has been created, to note that it is sending out abusive Tweets, and to prevent the person behind the account from being able to continue to do so. In other words, an abusive Tweeter that got his or her account locked might not be able to immediately make a brand new “egg account” for the purpose of continuing to behave badly on Twitter.