A New Anti-Trolling Tool For Twitter: Handle Masks:

Feb 12, 2017 · 6 min read
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Twitter abuse will always be with us

Most Twitter anti-abuse “features” to date, while symbolically important, have yet to make much of an impact on the more familiar and serious kinds of trolling and abuse, especially what I call “@mentions spam.” This is when an abuser will repeatedly use someone’s Twitter account name — often called a @handle — to hector, bully, threaten, taint, or otherwise harass and victimize them. Often, this behavior can’t be easily policed without stepping on free speech values.

Abusers gonna abuse…

And their first goal with mentions spam is always to flood timelines, searches and #hashtags with invective, insults, defamation, attack site URLs, and anything derogatory about their target. My own timeline, for example, has been inundated with such nonsense for almost a decade, alleging everything from misogyny to pedophilia and everything in between.

What is a Handle Mask?

Suppose we could all see at a glance that someone was using a blocked handle, and therefore was probably trying to abuse the person behind that handle? Repeatedly tweeting the visibly blocked handle could — or at least should — embarrass the abuser before some of their peers, while signaling to everyone else that the tweets were toxic and should not be retweeted. The Handle Mask would achieve this quickly, and at minimal cost. Here’s how it works:

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  1. Answer this simple poll question about the idea.
  2. Tweet a suggestion that Twitter implement the idea — or at least test it:
    @jack @twittersafety — Please consider this #HandleMasks idea to cut down on even more Twitter trolling and abuse. purl.org/sv/masks
  3. If you’re with the press, or a blogger, and decide to write about this idea, please tweet feel free contact me on Twitter/@shoq. Or at least tweet me your story. Thanks!

Recent Press

Can ‘Handle Masking’ Help Minimize Twitter Harassment? — CrooksAndLiars.com

About me

I’m a veteran Twitter user that has had more than my fair share of trolling, so I was highly motivated to find some form or remedy for the problem. Follow me on Twitter — @shoq — and we’ll talk about it.

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