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An image of Tracy Chou speaking on a stage at Inspirefest.

The tool trying to take the nastiness out of Twitter interactions

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Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and diversity advocate Tracy Chou is developing Block Party for Twitter users to avoid harassment on the platform.

Twitter is working with tech entrepreneur and software engineer Tracy Chou on a set of online safety tools designed to stop harassment on the platform.

Chou is CEO of Block Party, a suite of tools built into the Twitter platform allowing users to communicate with followers without having to contend with online abuse.

Future Human

It is one of a number of apps selected for Twitter’s recently launched ‘Twitter Toolbox’. TechCrunch reports that this is an initiative that aims to win back the trust of developers by allowing them to build natively on Twitter itself, while the social media giant will promote the developer-built platforms on its site.

Launched in February, the toolbox also includes the Thread Reader app as well as scheduling apps Chirr and Buffer and safety tools such as Bodyguard and Block Party.

Block Party has three main features. These are lockout filters, block lists and helper view.

The lockout filters can be used to mute Twitter users who bother you with unwanted content. The strength of the filters can be adjusted depending on a user’s mood or personal needs. Any content that has been filtered from the user’s timeline goes into a lockout folder, which users can review in their own time.

Block lists do pretty much what they promise to do. The feature lets the user copy an abusive tweet into a block list. With one click, they can block every account that liked and/or retweeted that particular tweet. Similar to the lockout filters, block lists can be reviewed and added to over time.

Helper view then allows a user to give a trusted family member or friend the power to take action on their behalf, without granting them full access to their Twitter account. New ‘helpers’ can be added or removed as needed by inputting their email addresses into Block Party.

This feature was designed for people who don’t want to face internet trolls on their own. It lets helpers mute and block other Twitter users on somebody’s behalf.

People who want to use Block Party can do so by signing up and linking their Block Party account to their Twitter account.

Block Party’s basic plan is free and it allows moderate filters, previews of keyword filters and helper view. To get block lists and full access to helper view, keyword filters and more, users can pay $12 per month for a premium plan (or $10 a month with annual billing).

The most expensive plan, supporter, costs $13 per month (or $11 with annual billing). It offers opt-in opportunities to test new features and tools in beta, as well as everything in the other plans.

Block Party creator and CEO Chou tweeted last week that it was “very cool” to be working with Twitter in a way that could bring the safety tools to more users.

Chou has worked as an engineer with Pinterest and Quora, and has long been an advocate for diversity in the tech industry.

She co-founded Project Include, a nonprofit organisation working to providing meaningful diversity and inclusion policies for tech companies. She has also worked with several Bay Area VC firms and start-ups as an investment scout and adviser on a range of topics from engineering and product to culture and diversity.

In 2017, Chou spoke at Inspirefest, the predecessor to Silicon Republic’s Future Human sci-tech event, about how the tech sector can tackle diversity issues with data. Future Human, which recently announced its first line-up of speakers, will be taking place on 12 and 13 May in Dublin and online.

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