As part of its drive to ensure that online bullies and trolls take their business elsewhere, Twitter has rolled out a new feature that will allow it to limit the post reach of accounts identified as abusive, temporarily. Called “Time Out” the feature ensures that accounts that spew abusive content, only reach those who have willingly chosen to follow them.

So basically, here is how it works — or at least how we think it works, because the company has not released an official statement regarding the feature, yet. Our most important source of information ironically, are those labeled as abusers themselves, who have received e-mails from Twitter — informing them that they had been timed out. If Twitter recognizes you as an abuser, it will limit your reach so that only people who follow you are able to see your tweets.

What’s more. if an account recognized as abusive, mentions someone who does not follow them, they won’t see the tweet either. And if one of their followers re-tweet their tweets, well, they won’t show up for people who don’t follow them either. Pretty damn smart if you ask me.

The move is similar to several others being implemented by Twitter in the recent times. Instead of depending upon users to report and block users — something that clearly did not work as well as Twitter hoped — the company is now directly intervening and putting a leash upon accounts that it thinks are too disruptive to the community. In this case for instance, Twitter is taking two things into account: What abusive content was posted? And what context was it posted in?

So from what I think, two friends having a little word fight in the public is okay, as long as its not done with malicious intent. However, if someone decides to pester another account that does not follow them and keeps on doing it — well, time for some time out.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of the e-mail being received by the offenders, courtsey of the..err, pork meatball a.k.a faggotfriday.

So, there you have it. Twitter seems to have realized that abusers thrive on public attention, and is now set to hit them where it hurts the most.

Let’s see if the company’s latest move induces some of the more abusive members to exercise restrain. Of course, Twitter will have to exercise some care and ensure that it does not take things too far. It is a social network after all, not a church. A fine balance between moderation and freedom of speech will have to be maintained. Let’s hope that whatever AI is given this responsibility, proves itself up to the task.

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