Home Apps Twitter to scramble abusive egg accounts

Twitter to scramble abusive egg accounts

Twitter has long been reputed as slow to act on anonymous "egg account" trolls, harassing users via its network. No more, the news and social network says, announcing it's finally taking steps to do so.

The ease of using the most public-facing social network has similarly led to many malicious people using the service to inflict abuse on others. Stories abound online, and this writer has dealt with bizarre and perverse trolls.

Yet, getting the ears of Twitter has often proven difficult and slow moving.

To its credit, Twitter has routinely implemented new features and declared new policies in an attempt to strike a balance between free speech and user safety. However, these were ultimately no more than deterrents rather than solutions.

That changes today. Twitter has announced widespread changes to deal with harassing "egg accounts" – so named because of the default egg-like Twitter profile icon.

These changes begin with an algorithm to detect when an account repeatedly tweets at non-followers or displays other behaviours that indicate abuse is occurring.

Twitter will not outright remove the account (at least, not by automation, without human review) but will progressively limit the reach of those tweets until ultimately it is one person ranting to themselves.

This policy of not banning abusers or spammers but hiding their output is not uncommon and is the same technique employed by Reddit where troublesome users (or bots) are shadow-banned and may happily continue ejaculating pejoratives without anyone else ever being subjected to it.

Additionally, Twitter will allow users to place egg accounts, keywords and select other items on mute for periods ranging from a day to forever.

Twitter also states it will at long last provide progress updates on abuse reports to users, no longer leaving them waiting for any signs of life from the Twitter offices.


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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.