Here's how Twitter is finally helping to stop rampant harassment on their site.

"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," said former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in a leaked 2015 memo.

"It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day," he continued. "We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day."

It was a surprising admission about one of the service's biggest flaws. On Twitter, sharing other users' posts as easy as a single touch, but that also creates the opportunity for regular people going about their day on Twitter to wind up the target of harassment from thousands of other users at a moment's notice.


Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Since the memo leaked, Twitter has been trying to solve some of the more obvious problems by adding a quality filter meant to weed out threatening messages from spam accounts and creating a path to account verification. Still, these steps weren't enough, and the torrent of abuse its users experience was hurting the company financially.

This week, Twitter announced a number of new tools meant to address the abuse problem, and they look like they might be pretty helpful.

(Trigger warning: Hate speech and transphobic slurs follow below.)

For one, they're expanding the mute feature so users can opt out of conversations and notifications including certain words. This is a big step forward since one of the bigger problems targets of harassment deal with is the aftermath of a tweet that's getting too much attention from the wrong crowd.

More importantly, Twitter is clarifying its terms of service, making it easier for users to file a report, and providing training to support staff to ensure they're up to date on the latest policies. The hateful conduct policy bans abusive behavior targeting people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.

What does online harassment look like, anyway? Here's some of what I get sent my way on a regular basis:

It's not especially fun, but while hurtful, it's usually not too bad.

Other times, though, the messages contain violent threats. For example (and this gets a little graphic):

The problem is that in many of these cases, there hasn't been anything a user could do to prevent these messages from coming.

You can block a single user, but once they've shared your tweet with everyone who follows them, chances are their followers will come after you. It's an infinite loop of blocking people. You can also report violent threats as abusive, but once Twitter goes through the process of reviewing the report, they often reply with a simple note saying that the tweets reported didn't violate their terms of service.

This is by no means limited to Twitter. Facebook has a similar problem with its reporting process, coming off as ineffective and sometimes arbitrary.

It's all somewhat understandable. As businesses, Facebook and Twitter have to find a balance between protecting free and open speech and shielding users from harm. Within hours of the announcement of new anti-harassment tools, Twitter suspended a number of high-profile accounts known for engaging in targeted harassment — that's certainly a start.

With new technology changing our world all the time, it's important that we remember to treat one another as human beings. Anti-bullying efforts will play a crucial role in years to come.

Whether it's on Twitter, Facebook, or in virtual reality spaces, online privacy and harassment protection plays an important role in society. It's easy to forget that there is a real human being on the other end of these online conversations. It's easy to treat them as undeserving of respect. It's easy to lose empathy for the world.

It's harder to do the right thing, but that doesn't change that it is, in fact, the right thing.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.