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Twitter bought an anti-harassment startup and immediately shut it down

Twitter acquired "trust and safety service" Smyte on Thursday, then shut down their API, giving existing customers no time to prepare for the closure.

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Jackson Ryan
2 min read
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Twitter is good.

That's what I always told myself. 

Twitter is totally great, it's so helpful. I can stay up to date with the news, talk to my friends, find out about what's going on in the world. The memes! Oh... the memes! Damn, Twitter is good.

I've come to realize that I am wrong. Twitter has quite a few problems. Big problems. Problems that make it easy for people to hurl abuse at strangers, problems with bullies and Nazis, problems with trolling and problems that make conversations distinctly unhealthy. Recently, Twitter has begun acknowledging these problems.

On Thursday, the social media giant announced in a blog post that it has acquired Smyte, a San Francisco-based startup that provides companies with tools to alleviate trolling, spam, harassment and improve security. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In a blog post titled "Continuing our Commitment to Health", Twitter outlined its goals to ensure "conversation is healthy" and where Smyte fits in that process. Smyte's IP and talent will allow Twitter to "address challenges in safety, spam and security more quickly and effectively. Their review tools and processes will be powerful additions to our own tools and technology that help us keep Twitter safe."

Exactly how Smyte's tools will be implemented in Twitter are yet to be revealed but the two companies visions are aligned, according to the blog post, and that will see abusive behavior stopped "before it impacts anyone's experience", suggesting that users won't see too many new features directly on their Twitter feeds. 

Before the acquisition, Smyte counted a number of big brands in its portfolio, including crowdfunding sites Indiegogo and GoFundMe, software registry npm and video platform Musical.ly. According to TechCrunch, a transition plan was in place for existing customers, but it appears that some customers have been shut out of Smyte's API immediately, without prior warning.

That's an unusual decision, leaving a bad taste in some clients' mouths.

In addition, Smyte's homepage has already been shut down and redirects to the Twitter safety blog

We reached out to Twitter to ascertain what steps current Smyte customers should take, but they did not immediately respond for comment.

Smyte's systems will begin being integrated into Twitter "in the coming months."

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