So far, it's only if you've got one of these by your username.
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Twitter gives (a few) users a new filter to block abuse

The social network's giving its "elite" users more control over whose tweets they have to pay attention to.

In February, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admitted it was no longer possible to ignore his company's open secret: "we suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we've sucked for years," he wrote, in an internal forum message obtained by The Verge. He was "ashamed" at how "absurd" it was that things had been allowed to get so bad, he added, in response to an episode of the podcast This American Life where writer Lindy West detailed how one troll created an account to mock her recently deceased father.

This could have been just rhetoric, but in fairness to Costolo and Twitter, there have already been some concrete steps taken to make things a little brighter for those struggling with harassment. The newest feature to be rolled out is a "quality filter", as a few users have found:

As of now, this is just for verified users of the official Twitter app on iOS, so anyone on a desktop PC (or Android smartphone or tablet) will have to wait. Verified users - a kind of pseudo-elite of celebrities, athletes, corporate brands, journalists and anyone else Twitter deems "highly sought" - already get a few extra options over other users (beyond the "credibility" that the little blue tick supposedly confers), including being able to filter away mentions from people they don't follow, so it's not fair to consider this a true solution for harassment just yet. It's still only a perk for the one per cent, for now.

Other recent Twitter changes include making it slightly easier to email the police with details of online harassment or threats, and tracking the phone numbers of persistent abusers so that they can't create new accounts on their smartphones. It's still easier, however, to report a user account for spam than it is for abuse, which is incredibly annoying and does nothing to convince people that the main incentive here isn't stopping abuse, it's making sure you can trust the ads you see.

Ian Steadman is a staff science and technology writer at the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @iansteadman.

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Why I refuse to complain about email spam

The bleaker things get, the easier it is to be annoyed about absolutely everything.

“I need just one night and your cock
I want to give you a [sic] head Nice [sic] ginger hair and big bubbly boobs”

It reads like poetry. Poetry by an early 00s DVD player that has recently mastered the English language and doesn’t know what to do with it. A DVD player that’s lying on a skip and has a discarded Cornetto sitting atop its plastic exoskeleton like a depressing party hat, sluggishly oozing ice cream into all its crevices. Yes. If a broken and abandoned DVD player were to start writing poems, they’d probably look a bit like that stunningly naïve and post-post-modern cock and bubbly boobs mess.

Innermost contemplations of an obsolete piece of technology or not, these lines of poetry recently appeared in my email junk folder. Subject line: “Sex right now.” Sender: “Teresa Hughes”.

The bleaker things get (economically, politically, socially) the easier it is to complain about absolutely everything. Knowing that I’ll probably spend the rest of my life either living with my parents or renting shitholes from miserly Dickensian landlords makes selfie sticks all the more annoying. And slow walkers. And rugby fans. And people who stand on street corners, shouting about Jesus and doom. All of these things, within the context of generalised rubbishness, are worthy of a billion pissed off tweets.

Spam, on the other hand, the bugbear of the privileged but stressed since about 1996, is one of the increasingly few things about which I refuse to complain. Reason being: spam, the porny kind in particular, has always been there for me… in a way.  

I can’t remember my first email address. Knowing prepubescent me, it was probably a) boringly weird and b) just a fucking abomination. Something like What I can remember though is being emailed about blowjobs way before I knew what they were. Which was, in a sense, educational.

Over the past few days, my junk folder has been inundated by requests from robots who want to do stuff to my penis. This is my first incursion of porn spam in a long while; years, possibly. And I’m finding it almost impossible to be annoyed or disgusted by it. Instead, I’ve been getting nostalgic. Nostalgic for a simpler digital time. A time in which connecting to the internet made a sound like an android with norovirus, and people were trusting enough to click on links in emails with subject lines like, “Mega-PU$$Y 4 U!!!!”.

I like to imagine that, over the next century, great leaders will come and go; empires will rise and fall; bootcut jeans will have moments of fashionableness roughly every fifteen years; and, all the while, people like “Teresa Hughes” will email us reminders that they would dearly like to suck us off, in exchange for a hard drive-melting virus.

Plus, I was only being a little bit facetious about that “poem” thing. When I did an art history elective at uni, a lot of it was spent gazing at pictures of Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain” (that urinal that’s art) and wondering what art actually is. Can a urinal be art? Can Danny Dyer be art? And, most pressingly, can spam be art? In one word: sure.

Let’s return our attention to those lines of spam at the beginning of the piece. I shall now attempt to apply GCSE-level analysis to Sex Now by “Teresa Hughes” (the lesser-known offspring of Ted and Sylvia, presumably).

The speaker, a woman, in a grab for immediate attention, addresses the reader directly. The line break after “cock” places emphasis on that word, reassuring the reader just how much she “needs” his/her penis. The unusual phrasing in the next line, “a head”, rather than “head”, for example, is a play on words that neatly juxtaposes [seriously, how much did you use the word “juxtapose” in GCSE English essays?] the primal act of giving head with the intellectual act of having one (and using it).  The alliteration in “big bubbly boobs” highlights the exact largeness and roundness pertaining to the speaker’s breasts. Furthermore, she wants us to know that her horniness transcends grammar.

Even furthermore, spam is literature and the world would be a darker place without it. So don’t be a great honking philistine and complain about it.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.