Twitter Rolls Out Anti-Hate Feature That Could Help De-Toxify Social Media

Safety Mode will begin testing on a small feedback group prioritizing female journalists and users from marginalized communities.

September 2, 2021 2 min read

Social media can be a toxic and potentially traumatic place when it comes to hateful and unwanted messages. Whether it’s a hot take, politically charged comment or subjective opinion on just about anything, all it takes is one confrontational reply to get the ball rolling and it can quickly become open season on the user in question, whether they’re a public figure — or intentionally being provocative — or not.

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It’s something that hasn’t flown under the radar for the Twitter team, and the company’s newest initiative is working to combat the toxicity. Dubbed Safety Mode, the feature will temporarily block Twitter accounts for one week for using “potentially harmful language” or for “sending repetitive and uninvited replies or mentions.”

Users can choose to opt into the feature by toggling it on in their settings.

Twitter said in a statement that its technology will “assess the likelihood of a negative engagement by considering both the Tweet’s content and the relations between the Tweet author and replier.”

The company does clarify that it’s unlikely that someone the tweeter interacts with frequently and positively will automatically be blocked should a seemingly negative interaction occur.

“We want you to enjoy healthy conversations, so this test is one way we’re limiting overwhelming and unwelcome interactions that can interrupt those conversations,” Twitter’s statement added. “Our goal is to better protect the individual on the receiving end of tweets by reducing the prevalence and visibility of harmful remarks.”

Twitter said it conducted research and feedback with experts in the fields of online safety, human rights and mental health and that the initial rollout feedback group would prioritize female journalists and those from marginalized communities.

Safety Mode will first be available to the feedback group on iOS, Android and Twitter.com before rolling out sitewide.

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