SAN FRANCISCO – Twitter on Tuesday released new tools aimed at combating hate speech and online abuse, responding to ongoing criticism that the tech firm hasn't done enough to curb harassment on its website.
"Abusive conduct removes the chance to see and share all perspectives around an issue, which we believe is critical to moving us all forward. In the worst cases, this type of conduct threatens human dignity, which we should all stand together to protect," Twitter said in a statement.
The company said it's rolling out a tool in the coming days that allows its 317 million monthly active users to filter out keywords, phrases and entire conversations such as racial slurs so they don't get notifications from people who are bombarding them with these tweets.
Twitter has been under more pressure to do more about online abuse after some celebrities and journalists took a break from the site because they were tired of dealing with trolls. Comedian and actress Leslie Jones brought more public attention to the issue in July when she spoke out on Twitter about some of the racist remarks she was receiving on the site. Twitter later banned conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos from its site after he was accused of leading the online hate campaign against Jones.
Yiannopoulos told CNN that he was targeted because he was a "gay conservative" and said that Twitter had "died as a free speech platform."
Online abuse and hate speech though has also been on the mind of many social media users during and after the presidential election. During the weekend, actress Emmy Rossum claimed she was receiving anti-Semitic threats on Twitter from supporters of President-elect Donald Trump.
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League released a report that showed that there were a total of 2.6 million tweets that contained language frequently found in anti-Semitic language between August 2015 and July 2016. About 19,253 tweets were directed at 800 journalists and a "considerable number" of users sending these messages self identified as Trump supporters and conservatives, the study found.
Another recent report by the antibullying charity Ditch the Label and social media monitoring company Brandwatch found that the most common type of hate speech on Twitter were racial insults followed by homophobic and transphobic comments.
The organizations looked at 19 million tweets in the United Kingdom and the United States over four years.
With a country divided following the presidential election, Trump said in a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday that supporters who are harassing Latinos and Muslims should "stop it."
Twitter said in a blog post about the new anti-harassment tools that the amount of abuse, bullying, and harassment the company has seen across the internet has risen sharply over the past few years. It did not respond to a Mercury News inquiry Tuesday about whether hate speech has been on the rise since the presidential election.