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Twitter tightens abuse rules following UK backlash

After several public figures in the U.K. became the target of trolls, the social media site is changing policies to clamp down on abusive behavior.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Twitter is changing policies on abusive behaviour following incidents which have highlighted threatening messages sent to users in the United Kingdom.

On Saturday, Senior Director of Trust and Safety Del Harvey and Twitter's U.K. General Manager Tony Wang published a blog post which made the microblogging site's stance on the issue clear: "It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter."

Twitter says that following calls for a better abuse reporting process, the company will introduce a one-click button that can instantly send an abuse report, rather than make users navigate to the site's help center to fill out a report form. The report button is already available in the latest version of the iOS Twitter app and on mobile, but will be rolled out on Android and Twitter.com this month.

In addition, Twitter has updated the site's rules to clarify that it "does not tolerate abusive behavior." The updated rules include a section on "targeted abuse," which bars users of the social media site from sending messages to a user from multiple accounts, communicating "if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others," and publishing direct or indirect threats of violence against others.

However, the company clarifies that "potentially inflammatory content" is still allowed, proving it does not "violate the Twitter Terms of Service and Rules."

As a simplified abuse reporting system is likely to increase the amount of reports the microblogging site has to wade through, Twitter has also promised to hire additional staff to deal with offensive users and messages.

The change in rules has been prompted by the case of Caroline Criado-Perez, who along with Labour MP Stella Creasy received bomb and rape threats after leading a campaign to place a female figure -- apart from the Queen -- on British banknotes.

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