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Periscope has a new plan to fight back against internet trolls

Attention livestreamers: You've been summoned for jury duty.

Tristan Fewings / Getty Images

Attention Periscope users: You've been summoned for jury duty.

Periscope, Twitter's standalone livestreaming app, has created a new way to combat internet trolls, which includes a system to put internet bad guys on trial in front of their internet peers.

Here's how the new abuse system works: If you're watching a Periscope livestream and come across a vile or inappropriate comment, you can report that comment, triggering what Periscope calls a "flash jury" of other users watching the same livestream.

Periscope will ask this flash jury, a small group of other randomly selected users, if they also consider the comment abusive or offensive. If the majority agrees with you, the commenter will be placed in a one minute time-out with commenting disabled. Repeat offenders will be muted for good.

In other words, Periscope wants its user base to police itself, all the way down to the verdict.

The new system is pretty unusual. Most social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat rely on users to report abusive and inappropriate material, but Periscope seems to be the first one asking other users to then weigh in. The thinking, according to senior Periscope engineer Aaron Wasserman, is that unlike most other social platforms, Periscope streams are live and comments happen fast, which means Periscope needs to move fast, too.

“These comments are gone almost as quickly as they appear and the damages happen that quickly," he said.

Why not simply ban a user for good if their comment is found by the group to be offensive? "It was really important for us to offer a path to rehabilitation,” he explained. “We’re actually inviting you to stick around and do better next time.”

Wasserman wouldn't say how often Periscope deals with these types of comments today, but the problem was obviously frequent enough to merit a new, specialized solution. Twitter, Periscope's parent company, has struggled with abuse and bullying issues that have turned many users, particularly women, away from the platform over the years. Periscope, which is just over a year old, is clearly trying to avoid a similar reputation.

The new feature will start to roll out to users on Tuesday as part of a free app update.

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