The feature sounds a lot like Instagram’s comments blocking tool, which at this time is exclusively reserved for popular users and business profiles. Twitter’s tool will fundamentally allow users to block out unpleasant tweets based on offensive words (such as profanities and racial slurs).
The move comes at a time when the backlash against Twitter’s perceived inaction against trolls has reached its peak. A number of high-profile users have abandoned the platform, or temporarily quit, when faced with a torrent of bigoted abuse.
Twitter’s so-called hands off approach relies on its users to report abuse, with complaints directed toward a dedicated team of staffers that probe the inquiries. Recently, Twitter has taken a stern public stance against harassment led by its CEO Jack Dorsey, who regards the issue as a primary concern.
It is a tough balancing act for a company that has advocated the need to protect free speech on its platform. Over a decade since its creation, many feel that Twitter has failed to ensure that its users feel safe on the site. And, as detailed in a recent BuzzFeed report, the calls for change are coming from its biggest advocates.
Whereas Instagram’s all-encompassing filter is applied to keywords designated as offensive by the company, Twitter’s new tool will reportedly allow for customization. The platform envisions the feature as a moderator for all kinds of content, according to Bloomberg. It could ultimately allow users to block out any number of topics and hashtags from their timelines based on their preferences.
Twitter has declined to comment on the feature, but it has reiterated its commitment to tackling harassment on a number of occasions, adding that it plans to announce an update on the issue soon.