Twitter adds tool to report tweets to the police

The tool gives users an emailed summary report they can forward to law enforcement

The report summary includes the flagged tweet and the user name of who posted it, along with Twitter's law enforcement guidelines.

The report summary includes the flagged tweet and the user name of who posted it, along with Twitter's law enforcement guidelines.

Twitter has added a tool to help users report abusive content to law enforcement, which could aid in removing the most threatening posts as Twitter ramps up its efforts to combat harassment.

The tool has been incorporated into the existing process for flagging abusive content or tweets. After reporting abusive or threatening content to Twitter, users have an option to receive an emailed summary of the report. The report would include the flagged tweet and its URL, the time at which it was sent, and the user name and account URL of the person who posted it.

The report, aimed at law enforcement, would also include a link to Twitter's guidelines on how authorities can request non-public user account information from Twitter. The idea is that after seeing a report, law enforcement might feel compelled to take further action.

Twitter would not send this emailed report to law enforcement directly; it would be up to user to forward it. It comes as Twitter has more broadly beefed up its tools for reporting abusive content.

Twitter seems to envision the tool as a possible route to respond to the most threatening tweets. "While we take threats of violence seriously and will suspend responsible accounts when appropriate, we strongly recommend contacting your local law enforcement if you're concerned about your physical safety," Twitter said in a blog post on Tuesday.

In developing the tool, Twitter received feedback from a number of outside groups including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, which works to end violence against women. The new tool is not designed exclusively for women, but it could help in this area. Women have been ruthlessly targeted on Twitter and on other sites like Reddit and 4chan, due to sexism in the video game industry, sometimes referred to as "Gamergate."

Twitter has been working to improve its abuse-reporting tools, which all rely on users to flag content. The company recently streamlined its tools for reporting issues like impersonation and self-harm. Just last week Twitter banned the posting of revenge porn and nude images that have been stolen or are being used without permission, after a similar move by Reddit.

Twitter's new tool is rolling out worldwide starting Tuesday for the desktop as well as the company's mobile apps.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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