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Twitter takes new steps to tackle cyberbullying

Targeted harassment on Twitter has been such a persistent problem on the social platform that CEO Jack Dorsey has made blocking it one of his top priorities.

Not only is trolling and hate speech a turnoff for users and a hurdle for attracting new ones, it's also a barrier for potential buyers of the company. Now, Twitter is taking steps to make it easier to report and mute abuse and to enforce its policies.

"This is another step on a path towards trying to address abuse and do it in a way that is as rapid and as effective as possible," said Del Harvey, Twitter's vice president of trust and safety

Twitter is upgrading its mute feature — instead of just allowing users to mute accounts they don't want to see tweets from, now users can mute words, phrases and notifications. That means instead of getting a notification when you're mentioned in a hateful conversation, there's no indication it's happening.

To prevent those abusive comments from being posted in the first place, Twitter is upgrading its tools to allow users to directly report different types of conduct that violates Twitter's policies — anything that specifically "targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease."

More specific reporting will make it easier for Twitter to process complaints faster, and more quickly help the person experiencing the abuse.

Twitter says it's serious about enforcing its policies, retraining all its support teams and upgrading its tools and systems to address inappropriate conduct quicker and with more transparency.

"We continue to get feedback from people from around the world on things we're getting wrong," Harvey said. "We've been doubling down on this since the end of last year. It's a real priority for Jack and the company as a whole."

Of course this comes on the heels of a contentious election, which drove spikes in Twitter usage around big live events such as the debates and Election Day. Twitter's hoping to hold onto any new users it drew as a result of the election.