Follow Buddies and Block Buddies: A Simple Proposal to Improve Civility, Control, and Privacy on Twitter

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The 2016 election has put squarely on the public agenda a series of questions related to the norms of social media, everything from the proliferation of fake news on Facebook to the trolling culture of Twitter. These questions are not new. The culture of abuse online towards women, for example, is a matter about which one of us wrote a book. But over the last few months, the concerns—spurred in part by a president-elect and his followers who participate actively in Twitter abuse of opponents and critics—have vaulted into the mainstream.

The problems vary significantly by social media platform. On Twitter, the pressing issue is civility: values of free expression and individual user freedom often get pitted against norms of decency and the ability to participate online free of harassment and abuse.

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