As part of its continued efforts to stamp out abuse on its platform, Twitter is testing a new feature that puts abusive accounts in a temporary “timeout” period.
Many users are reporting that they have received notices, saying that their accounts will have their reach limited temporarily, due to violation of its policies. The set time seems to be 12 hours at this point, and it begins as soon as a user starts tweeting again. Reach on a “locked down” account is limited to followers only. As a recent Tweet from user @NaYaKnoMi, reads:
We’ve temporarily limited some of your account features.
and goes on to explain,
What’s going on? Creating a safer environment for people to freely express themselves is critical to the Twitter community, so if behavior that may violate the Twitter Rules is detected, certain account features become limited. We’ve detected some potentially abusive behavior from your account, so only your followers can see you activity on Twitter for the amount of time shown below. Your account will be restored to full functionality in: 12 hours and 0 minutes. The countdown will begin once you continue to Twitter
— Keith B. Still (@NaYaKnoMi) February 14, 2017
What this temporary limitation actually does, is contain suspected abusive behaviour within a specific group of users, restricting it from entering the wider Twitter community. It is certainly one way to start to limit abusive content from spreading, but at this point, the notice of “temporary limitation” does not tell a user what exactly he/she did wrong. It just generally states that he/she violated Twitter’s Rules. Being more specific would be beneficial in this case, as would being given the ability to contest the limitation.
Twitter has said in recent weeks, that it is using algorithms to weed out abusive behaviour. Perhaps this is one of the results. We don’t currently know what method is being used here. We also don’t know yet what happens after the first 12-hour period, if a user ignores the warning.