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Twitter says it’s punishing 10 times more users for being abusive than it was a year ago

Twitter claims its recent efforts to curb abuse are helping.

#SheInspiresMe: Twitter celebrates female voices & visionaries at Cannes Lions Francois Durand/Getty Images for Twitter

Back in January, Twitter’s product boss Ed Ho sent out a tweet with what many viewed as an overdue promise: That Twitter was finally going to buckle down on fixing its abuse problem.

“Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus and we are now moving with more urgency than ever,” Ho tweeted. “We heard you, we didn't move fast enough last year; now we’re thinking about progress in days and hours not weeks and months.”

Twitter has launched a number of actual product updates since then in an effort to try and curb abusive behavior, including changes to its private messaging feature and algorithmic filters to hide abusive replies.

Now it claims those changing are generating real results, including more warnings and suspensions for users.

Twitter is “taking action” against 10 times the number of accounts it did one year ago, Ho and Twitter’s VP of Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, told a group of reporters this week in San Francisco. Twitter also said it has suspended twice as many accounts in the last four months than it did in the four months prior.

Taking action means that Twitter is either warning a user, temporarily limiting that user’s reach so that their tweets are visible only to their followers, or suspending them altogether.

These metrics don’t paint the full picture. Twitter did not share how many accounts it took action against a year ago, for example, or how many accounts it suspended in the four-month window. So there’s no way to know if Twitter is jumping from 100 to 1,000 accounts or one million to 10 million.

Regardless, Twitter is arguing that these stats are proof that the company is A) taking abuse more seriously on the platform, and B) that its product updates are working.

Twitter says part of the company’s change has been applying more technical resources to actually fighting abuse, and bringing product folks like Ho into more meetings with safety and policy executives, like Harvey.

“Up until [this year], it’s been sort of policy and enforcement in a vacuum,” Harvey said. “There wasn’t sort of the partnership that we really needed on the product and engineering side to be able to drive a lot of these things the way that we wanted to.”

Twitter has a long road ahead when it comes to convincing users that it’s mitigated the problem, and Harvey admits that Twitter is far from done with its efforts around abuse. Twitter has been saddled with an abuse problem for years, and even the fact that it’s just now pairing policy and product execs to tackle the problem is surprising.

“This is just a progress update,” Ho said. “By no means are we done.”

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