Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO
Dick Costolo has acknowledged Twitter’s shortcomings in dealing with cyberbullyingReuters

Twitter has revealed a series of measures to try and prevent the spread of abusive tweets after it admitted it "sucked" at dealing with the problem.

A leaked internal memo from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo earlier this year revealed that the boss of the hugely popular micro-blogging service was only too aware that his team was not dealing adequately with the abuse being given to some users.

"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo said.

To that end, Twitter has announced two ways in which it is hoping to limit the spread of abuse on its platform.

The first sees it extend a service which it had begun testing with verified users in March, allowing them to filter out abusive tweets from their notifications - an extension of a service already available for users with the verified blue tick called "tailored filtering".

Determined to be abusive

Twitter's head of product management Shreyas Doshi described what the new filter will do in a blog post:

"This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive."

The service will not limit your ability to see content you explicitly seek out, Twitter says, in a bid to allay fears that some might see this as a form of censorship with Doshi adding that the filter "does not take into account whether the content posted or followed by a user is controversial or unpopular".

Violent threats policy

The second way Twitter is trying to address the problem is by updating its violent threats policy so it is not limited to "direct, specific threats of violence against others" but now extends to "threats of violence against others or promoting violence against others".

Doshi said the previous policy was "unduly narrow" limited what action it could take against certain types of activity.

"The updated language better describes the range of prohibited content and our intention to act when users step over the line into abuse," Doshi said. To help enforce this updated policy, Twitter administrators can now suspend an abusive account for a specific period of time which the company says gives it "leverage in a variety of contexts, particularly where multiple users begin harassing a particular person or group of people".

Death threats

There have been numerous high profile examples of Twitter abuse with the most recent seeing the presenter of the BBC's Great British Bake-off - Sue Perkins - announcing she would be taking a break from the social network after getting death threats over spurious rumours that she would be the next host of Top Gear following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson.

In February, Costolo revealed his shame at the way the company had addressed these problems:

"I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing."