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(Twitter Image)

Twitter is taking a harder stance on trolls, announcing Tuesday a series of updates aimed at reducing abuse on the site.

The social media giant has been a target of criticism for its perceived lack of action against abusive activity in the past. The criticism amplified during the last election, when surveys showed an increase in hate speech, and Twitter has begun taking more concrete action to address it. Last year, the site banned Milo Yiannopoulos, a provocative editor of right-wing site Breitbart, for targeting harassment.

On Tuesday, Twitter took its campaign a step further. The site will begin working to stop the creation abusive accounts, introduce a “safe search” feature and collapse abusive “low quality” tweets.

Twitter didn’t go into detail about how it plans to identify or block abusive users, but said it will focus on blocking users who have already been permanently suspended from creating new accounts. In its Help Center, Twitter details the type of abuse that can lead to an account being suspended, including violent threats, hate speech and publishing private information.

“Making Twitter a safer place is our primary focus,” VP of Engineering Ed Ho wrote. “We stand for freedom of expression and people being able to see all sides of any topic. That’s put in jeopardy when abuse and harassment stifle and silence those voices.”

(Twitter Image)

Twitter is also working on systems to make abusive content less discoverable on the site. In addition to rolling out a “safe search” that will not feature tweets from blocked or muted accounts in search results, the site will also “collapse” abusive tweets in conversations. These tweets will still be accessible “to those who seek them out,” Twitter said, but they’ll be less visible.

The changes will be rolled out over the next few weeks, along with an update announced last week that improves systems to report abuse.

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