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Can 'Handle Masking' Help Minimize Twitter Harassment?

Twitter harassment by trolls and their minions has been a problem since the first day Twitter launched. Once you get targeted, it is hard to get off the radar of those basement dwelling losers who want to annoy users until they either leave twitter, block them (which they screencap and declare as victory) or flood their page with despicable tweets and retweets.

Jack and the entire Twitter team have tried, somewhat halfheartedly, to implement policies and tools to reduce harassment. Some have worked minimally, some not at all.

Now long-term Twitter user @Shoq has come up with the idea of "Handle Masking" that may actually work.

Here are the basics, from this Medium Post:

Mentions spam is:

"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."

Using this type of weapon on social media allows a users timeline to be flooded with literally dozens, or even hundreds, of tweets from a troll army. It can be overwhelming, scary and intimidating to even the most thick skinned user.

So what does "Handle Masking" do? Simply put:

"Whenever an abuser’s account is blocked by a ‘victim,’ the victim’s handle is always hidden — or masked out — whenever the abuser tries to use it in a tweet. It’s not a good look....Whenever you block someone, your own handle will be automatically hidden — or masked — whenever the blocked person uses it in their tweets. Thus, if you, @victim_101, blocks @abuser_666, then anything the abuser tweets that mentions you will show only the mask, not your handle. For example:"

Twitter moments has seen a lot of excellent feedback on this idea, too.

The one major caveat with this tool is that a truly dedicated abuser can find a way around the mask by just deleting the "@" symbol. That won't mask your handle. But if they RT you or tweet at you, they would just see lots of "*****"

Should Twitter try this out? Let them know at @Twitter or @Jack and please comment on the moments tweet if you have any ideas/feedback.


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