Twitter logo displayed on a phone | Alex Flynn/Bloomberg
File image of a Twitter logo displayed on a phone | Alex Flynn | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: Twitter has announced that it is developing a new feature that will warn users before they post any offensive content. The feature will be rolled out for iOS users initially.

Before posting a tweet or replying to one, the new feature will alert users if the words in their content match those found in posts that have been previously ‘reported’. People will be given the option of revising their messages before they post it online.

“We’re trying to encourage people to rethink their behaviour and rethink their language before posting because they often are in the heat of the moment and they might say something they regret,” Sunita Saligram, Twitter’s global head of site policy for trust and safety, told Reuters.

According to Twitter’s policies, users are not allowed to target individuals with slurs, racist or sexist tropes, or degrading content. Between January and June last year, the company had taken action against 396,000 accounts under its abuse policies and more than 584,000 accounts under its hateful conduct policies.

Also read: DCW asks police to file FIR for ‘online abuse’ of pregnant Jamia student held in riots case

‘Women abused every 30 seconds on Twitter’

The micro-blogging site, which had over 330 million monthly active users in 2018-2019, has often come under pressure to address hateful and abusive content on its platform.

Women in particular have frequently been the subject of abusive and hateful messages, according to a 2018 Amnesty report, which also pointed out that women were abused every 30 seconds on Twitter.

The human rights watchdog had published another report earlier this year titled ‘Troll Patrol India: Exposing Online Abuse Faced by Women Politicians in India’, stating that one in every seven tweets that mention women politicians in India was “problematic” or “abusive”.

Twitter has often had to toe the line between its commitment towards free speech and increasing instances of abuse. In 2017, its founder and CEO Jack Dorsey had announced new rules that were meant to combat sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorify violence.

Currently, the site allows users to report or flag a tweet they find offensive, which is then reviewed by Twitter’s support team.

The new feature has, however, invited skepticism over whether it might give users a playbook to find loopholes in Twitter’s rules on offensive language. But Saligram has maintained that it targets the majority of rule breakers who are not repeat offenders.

The new experiment will start this week and last for a couple more. It will first be tried globally on English-language tweets.

Also read: Twitter suspends fake accounts impersonating Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee


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