How Twitter’s New Filters Can Keep Trolls and Rotten Eggs Out

I love Twitter, although my answers are full of people calling me an idiot. I use it to follow the news and make jokes, but I can hardly tweet about politics without an army of anonymous trolls spamming my notifications. Now Twitter is finally giving users new tools to keep trolls from your mentions.

Some people are just annoyed when strangers appear in their responses, but obsessive trolls also look for specific topics (especially those related to politics … and video games) and choose people with hate speech. Over the past six months, Twitter has become a little more proactive in tackling rampant abuse of the site, adding new ways to mute certain words and people . These features are finally available to everyone.

In particular, you can now manage ” Advanced Mute Options ” right in the iOS app. (I also have an option on the desktop site, but it may not be available to everyone yet.) Let’s take a look at a few ways to use this filter to prevent trolls from spamming you or avoiding topics you just don’t want to see.

Disable notifications from anonymous trolls

“Muting” on Twitter has several different meanings. For years, the only option has been to block or mute certain people when they annoy you. In this case, “ mute ” simply meant that you could follow someone on Twitter without actually seeing their tweets. This is not a way to fight trolls; it’s just a weird politeness to follow someone without paying attention to them.

Blocking is a nuclear option for dealing with a person; block someone and then you will never see their messages. But even blocking people can be a mole game because people can simply create new accounts to keep pestering you (although Twitter is trying to fix that too ).

There is now more control over what you actually see in your notifications:

First, you can mute everyone you don’t follow. By itself, this is very convenient if you just want to keep a conversation between you and your friends, like on Facebook.

Other filters are designed to target serial Twitter offenders who create new accounts even when you block them. These trolls usually do not waste time uploading their profile pictures (which is why they are called “eggs”, the default avatar). And to maintain anonymity, they do not confirm their email address or phone number. Obviously this isn’t a waterproof filter, given that they might just upload any silly picture or create an anonymous new email address to get around this, but it’s a wide move to clear up your notifications a bit.

(The “quality filter” is more ambiguous; Twitter claims to remove “low quality content,” whatever that means. I know all my tweets are high quality.)

Advanced Muting blocks words, hashtags and people

Setting up more advanced filters takes a little more work because you need to tell Twitter what you don’t want to see. This means that if someone keeps calling you the same swear word, you will have to spell it out. This is not good because it is a reaction to existing abuse, not prevention in the first place.

But if there is a word, term or phrase that you don’t like, you can add it here and never see it on Twitter at all. Muting the sound removes the word from your entire timeline in addition to your notifications. To deal with hate speech, you need to be specific: the other day someone on Twitter told me to “shoot [myself]” so that I could, for example, muffle the words “shoot myself” and never see it again. Hooray.

Aside from the sarcastic vocabulary, you can simply turn off any topics you don’t want to see. If you hate cats, turn off the word “cats”. Or you can target specific people so that even mentioning them will be removed from your feeds. If I take a vacation, I can add a few politicians to enjoy the relative ignorance of politics for a while. In fact, you can also set time limits for your filters if you just need a time delay.

Time limits are also great for avoiding spoilers. You can temporarily turn off the sound of Game of Thrones, The Bachelor, or any other TV show, game or movie that you save for later. Of course, it doesn’t make sense to limit hateful time; I don’t like being called an idiot today, and I probably won’t like that tomorrow either.

Far from being ideal for dealing with stupid Internet trolls, these filters are a timeless and versatile group. But this is one step you can take to drown out some of your worst offenders, make Twitter more engaging, and get your mentions back.

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