The micro blogging site Twitter has faced pressure to provide better protection for users who are abused and bullied on the network. Policy head Nick Pickles explains its new plans
A child born today will grow up in a world powered by data. They will be surrounded by powerful digital technologies, while the world's information is digitised, analysed and transmitted around them in seconds. In the first week of their life, 3.5bn tweets will be sent.
They will grow up in a world that seems much smaller, as voices from the furthest corners of the earth are broadcast beyond national boundaries with a click. Another billion people will get online before they graduate from university.
Safer Internet Day gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on this fact, but also to think about the challenges we face in our globally connected world. At the same time, it's important to remember that these challenges are not the product of the internet. Our means of communication have rapidly evolved, but the issues we face as global citizens remain starkly similar.
If there's one thing that's certain, it's that the internet's growth has brought into the open some challenging, even upsetting, viewpoints. These viewpoints, which existed long before the iPhone, have become more visible because of the power of the technology we have at our fingertips. The internet has become a real-time global mirror, reflecting society in a way that is not always comfortable to look at.
Yet there are far more people who want to see a positive reflection than a negative one. The tolerant outnumber the intolerant, the peaceful outnumber the abusive. The challenge is ensuring that the noise generated by those who seek to create division is drowned out by voices of hope and respect.
Since long before the internet, this was how meaningful social change was realised. Those who sought equality would go to the town square and make their voices heard. Now, with campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter, #Refugees Welcome, #LoveWins or #NotInMyName, people are once again coming together, using the global town square of the internet to make their voices heard across continents and time zones.
Twitter's evolution as a global town square has meant we have faced challenges to ensure that voices of respect are not silenced, either by the digital mob or the encroachment of the state.
Last year we made several changes to improve the platform. For example, we took the decision to allow bystander reporting - meaning every Twitter user can report any tweet they see, whether or not it was directed at them specifically. We changed our rules to prohibit the posting of intimate images without consent, and also clarified the rules on hateful conduct.
Looking ahead, we will continue to build on these iterations, making Twitter's tools stronger and implementing more robust policies where necessary. We have listened to users and we will invest across our business to ensure we deliver.
?Nick Pickles is head of public policy for Twitter UK