Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Twitter’s New Anti-Harrassment Tools Were Immediately Undermined by Ads

Charlie Warzel reports for Buzzfeed on some new anti-harrassment tools rolling out on Twitter:

On the product end, Twitter has augmented its mute feature to allow users to filter specific phrases, keywords, and hashtags, similar to what’s found on Instagram, which added a keyword filter this September. The feature was widely believed to be close to completion late last month after Twitter temporarily rolled out a test of the mute filter to select users.

But while the test resembled a standard keyword filter, Twitter’s new mute tool will go a step further, allowing users to mute entire conversation threads. This will allow users to stop receiving notifications from a specific Twitter thread without removing the thread from your timeline or blocking any users. And according to Twitter, you’ll only be able to mute conversations that relate to a tweet you’re included in (where your handle is mentioned).

This doesn’t fix the abuse that runs rampant on Twitter, but it does allow victims of it a way to reduce their exposure. There are also some new reporting options that allow posts to be marked as “hateful conduct”; but, again, all of these features place the onus of handling abuse on Twitter’s users.

So, how’s the rollout going? Let’s ask Ariana Lenarsky:

.@twitter I can’t believe anything still surprises me, but why the fuck am I seeing nazi ads on this website

Yeah, you read that right. Ben Sullivan reports for Vice:

Twitter’s own hateful conduct policy specifically prohibits content that “targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.” While Twitter does not comment on individual accounts, a spokesperson told Motherboard “it looks like the screenshot in that tweet is either old or photoshopped.”

Motherboard spoke to Lenarsky, who provided timestamps to confirm that the image is not photoshopped, and that several other users had seen the ad too. “Twitter normalized, promoted, and profited off of Nazi white supremacy propaganda,” Lenarsky told Motherboard. “I should not have to explain to Twitter why promoting Nazi propaganda on their website is a dangerous and immoral thing to do.” Lenarsky added she will not be using Twitter again until the company apologizes.

In sentences that fall under the category of things that indicate what kind of a year 2016 has been, here’s one more: if Twitter can’t even keep their ads free of neo-Nazi propaganda, how are they going to reduce or eliminate ongoing abuse on their platform? Their knee-jerk accusation of fakery seems telling.

Update: Jack Dorsey has apologized. Still no word on why the spokesperson accused Lenarsky of faking the ad.