Twitter’s become infamous in recent years for having major problems with trolls, harassment, racists, and bullying. Not helping is Twitter’s lackluster response to dealing with all of this. There have been various reasons suggested for this: fighting online harassment isn’t easy; Twitter supposedly needing the increased user counts, no matter where they’re from; a very libertarian adherence to freedom of speech; etc.
Fortunately, there’s a few ways to deal with the lowlights of Twitter outside of the default blocking tools. While not perfect, they’re better than nothing.
Install the Twitter Block Chain Chrome extension
Twitter Block Chain is a Chrome browser extension that allows users to block (all at once) all of the followers of any user. While it’s a scorched-earth tactic, it does make pre-emptive blocking of trolls much easier.
To use Twitter Block Chain, install it in Chrome, then go to a user’s Twitter page. Click on the user’s follower or following page, then click Twitter Block Chain’s icon and select “Run Block Chain.” A pop-up confirmation window asks if you really want to block the user’s followers or who they’re following. If so, click “OK,” and the users will all be blocked. Depending on the number of users, it might take awhile.
When done, your block list on Twitter will contain all of the users blocked. On the unlikely chance you’ll need to unblock a user, you can do that manually in Twitter like for anyone else.
I didn’t see a version of this extension available for Firefox; Firefox users might find it worth running Chrome just for the time it takes to use this extension.
Switch your location to Germany
For those looking to block Nazis, one tactic that’s gained popularity (as reported by Lifehacker) is to simply switch Twitter’s content settings from your native country to Germany. German law has severe restrictions on Nazi propaganda, hate speech, and the like. Therefore, Twitter’s forced to filter out such material for German users, or at least as much as possible.
To switch to Germany’s filters, click on your avatar on Twitter, then select “Settings and privacy.” Under “content,” change the country to Germany, and then save the changes. Displayed language, etc. will stay in English, but most of the Nazi users (or users flagged as violating German hate speech laws) will be filtered out.
Lifehacker notes this change in location settings is only saved in your individual browser, and not your Twitter account.
Hopefully Twitter will make improvements in how it handles its troll problem sooner rather than later.
As for the idea doing such will infringe on free speech, I’ll note many countries already have hate speech laws, and haven’t descended into chaos. Plus, as an often-circulated xkcd strip notes, freedom of speech is aimed at the government, rather than a service like Twitter. The house that 140 (now 280) characters built isn’t obliged to cater to racists any more than my blog does.