Let’s make Twitter a better place by ridding it of trolls

One app to block them all

Summary

We’ve built a proof of concept for a Twitter service that automatically blocks trolls for you.

We call it Troll, Abort! Give it a try.

We’ve also made a less than two minutes long video where we explain some more. Watch it on Vimeo.

Now we’re looking for organisations, companies and individuals to collaborate with to make this happen. We need both time and money. Get in touch with us on [email protected]. Help us spread the word by sharing this article, trollabort.com and @trollabort.

Background

Online harassment and hate is not a new problem. I received a hand-written letter with threats back in 2002 when I was moderating a Swedish tech forum. These days, with the rise of social media and more people accessing the Internet, things have gotten a lot worse. This is not an easy problem to solve, but we want to do something and have decided to focus on Twitter.

Have you read “Why Twitter’s Dying (And What You Can Learn From It)” by Umair Haque? Umair hits the spot regarding Twitter’s harassment problem and it’s definitely worth 9 minutes of your time.

Let’s look at what Twitter offers to help us.

We’ve been able to block accounts for a long time. Muting first showed up in some third party clients (Tweetbot was first?) and is now a part of Twitter itself.

Since last summer, we’re also able to export a list of accounts we’ve blocked and share it with someone else. These can then be imported, resulting in those accounts being blocked for the one who imports them as well. This operation requires that you use a computer though. That makes it hard for a lot of Twitter’s users.

So we do have some tools at our hands to block and mute. But it’s not easy nor convenient.

About a month ago Twitter announced the new “Trust and Safety Council”. It sounds like a good initiative so let’s hope for the best here.

To sum things up: Twitter could be an amazing place but apparently they’re in a tight spot. So we’re trying to help them.

What we want to do

We want to build a service that Twitter users can subscribe to, which automatically blocks bad accounts. It will be 100% free forever (or as long as Twitter allows us…).

We’ve built a proof of concept to prove that the idea works with Twitter’s APIs and you can try it today:

https://www.trollabort.com

Of course you can still manually block account but by subscribing to this service we’ll make sure that you don’t have to meet the worst trolls.

These are the trolls we’re blocking in this test phase (how any of these accounts can be around at all is a mystery to us).

How the service works

As easy as 1…2… and not even a 3.

1. Sign in with your Twitter account

2. Flip the switch block and subscribe to automatic updates

That’s it. Now enjoy Twitter with less trolls.

If you miss the trolls then just come back to us at any time and flip the switch again to unsubcribe.

We need your help to make it happen

Get in touch with us on [email protected].

We need…

Money

Building, maintaining and hosting a service like this costs.

Marketing

Help us spread the word. Share the project and tip organisations, companies and individuals about us.

People and roles

  • Developers (we’re building this with Ruby on Rails)
  • Organisations that can maintain lists of bad accounts that should be blocked
  • Product managers
  • Digital strategists
  • Data analysts
  • Marketers

Hosting services

Hosting companies in the Ruby on Rails business… Any takers here?

Could be frequently asked questions

Who’s behind this?

Right now it’s just us — Kollegorna (Swedish for “The Colleagues”). We’re a digital agency building products and services.

Homepage
Labs
Twitter
GitHub

Why do you need help AND money?

We can’t do it by ourselves.

Is this like X for Twitter?

Well… Like Truecaller for Twitter. Or AdBlock for Twitter. Or a traditional spamfilter. Or just a friend helping a friend out.

Is this affiliated with Twitter in any way?

No. But we hope to get their support.

Will Twitter allow this?

From what we can see we’re not breaking any terms. If this becomes as successful as we hope we’ll most likely reach the limit of calls to their API. If so we believe that the nice chaps at Twitter will let us pass anyway.

Are there more ways to join the cause against online harassment?

Yes there are:

Thanks for your time. Now let’s make Twitter more troll free. Contact us on [email protected] if you can help and please share the project.

Try Troll, Abort!

Follow us on Twitter