On Tuesday, Twitter announced a new feature designed to “Make Twitter Great Again.” Yes, that’s a stretch. However, in an ongoing fight against online harassment, hate speech and trolling, behavior that reached a saturation point during the 2016 election, Twitter is taking a stand. The company’s new anti-harassment tools expand a user’s ability to mute keywords, phrases and conversations. The keyword here is “mute,” not “block,” which means the tool doesn’t infringe on a user’s freedom of speech.
Still, expect to see an increase in online chatter about Twitter’s conversion to the dark side. Words like “Big Brother” and “thought police” are sure to be bandied about, and someone will no doubt decry Twitter’s anti-harassment tool as another example of the Left’s assault on free speech. When it comes to freedom of speech, there’s a prevailing logic that anything is acceptable, in any venue or platform, short of yelling fire in a crowded theater.
According to Wired, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo doesn’t want trolls on the platform, and he’s making it his top priority to accomplish that goal. Is the anti-harassment tool too easy for tech-savvy trolls and online reactionaries to circumvent? Some critics think so. Still, it’s a step in the right direction. Twitter’s rapid fire, real time commentary threads make it prone to abuse and hate speech. While some believe that no speech act is beyond the pale, hate and harassment have no place on social media.