“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” wrote Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo, in an internal memo in February.
And he was right. From death threats to members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to an unending campaign of harassment against Anita Sarkeesian to GamerGate to high-profile celebrities and their families receiving floods of abuse and threats, Twitter had became an increasingly toxic environment.
It seemed as though Twitter has been standing idly by while trolls spread their hate, and Costolo’s memo made it clear that not enough was being done.
Since late 2013, Twitter has been tweaking how it responds, and quietly testing new methods of flagging harassing messages and acting against user accounts who posted them.
The changes announced April 21 codify some of what people had observed was happening in tests. The proof is in what happens next, but the conditions that Twitter has set up could lead to a substantially improved experience for many on Twitter after a long period of little visible progress.