With rampant incidents of sexual harassment transcending mediums and slithering its way into social media platforms, there's been a spurt of unsolicited sexually explicit messages and photos on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.
Women have often complained how their Twitter's direct message feature has been at the receiving end of many such unwarranted sexual messages and pictures. So in order to safeguard social media profiles, the microblogging platform is reportedly working on a feature that will keep out sexual content of such nature from the DMs, a report in Buzzfeed said.
As per reports in March, cases of cyberbullying and online harassment against women and teenagers grew by 36 percent in the past year.
Jane Manchung Wong, a Hong-kong based technology blogger and app researcher, who is famous for uncovering many such features before the companies pitch them to the public, reportedly was the one who first found Twitter's attempt to minimise such explicit content on Twitter. Women are often flooded with sexual pictures and other graphic content which are part of a much bigger problem of sexual harassment.
Earlier in February this year, a developer by the name of Kelsey Bressler had developed a filter as 'safe DM' for the microblogging platform that aimed to remove at least 99% of sexual content from DMs using AI technology. Kelsey had spoken about it on her Twitter handle last year.
I'm soliciting dick pics at the handle @showyodiq . This is not a joke.I am testing a filter that is under development which will automatically detect dick pics in DMs and handle them on behalf of the user (delete, delete&block). 18+ , consensual, human dicks only please.— K E L S E Y (@raeBress) September 5, 2019
The feature needs one to authorize the filter with one's Twitter account in order for it to work. However, the feature might just filter out other phallic-shaped objects.
Apart from these features, Twitter is also reportedly planning to add feature of muting the Direct messages and pushing them down. A spokesperson had said about the new feature the platform was planning to start, “To help people feel safe and in control on Twitter, we’re testing a few changes to Direct Messages including the ability to mute people from message requests, as an alternative to blocking or reporting.”
But are these methods enough to curb instances of cyber sexual harassment? Lodging complaints ideally should be the way to go about it because there is a vast number of women and even teenagers who face sexual harassment online. In fact, up until a few years ago, most people are still unaware of how to file an FIR in a cyberbullying case. In fact, most people are unaware of what cyberbullying or online sexual harassment even is.
The platform has often been adding or removing features from to address various issues such as fake news or misinformation too. Recently, the microblogging platform has also reversed changes made to its retweet function intended to curb the spread of misinformation during the US presidential election, the company said. The microblogging site had in October made it difficult for users to retweet a tweet with misinformation and promoted the use of quote tweets, which included commentary from the user.
It had also imposed curbs including labeling and removal of tweets calling for people to interfere with the election process or implementation of results.