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Twitter acquires San Francisco-based startup Smyte to help curb online harrsment

Twitter  this morning announced it has agreed to buy San Francisco-based technology company Smyte.

Founded in 2014 by former Instagram and Google engineers, Smyte is designed to identify and prevent harassment and spam, as well as to protect user accounts from phishing schemes and other forms of digital abuse.

According to Smyte’s website, its clients included Indiegogo, GoFundMe, npm, Musical.ly, TaskRabbit, Meetup, OLX, ThredUp, YouNow, 99 Designs, Carousell, and Zendesk – big name brands that used Smyte’s feature set in a variety of ways to combat fraud, abuse, harassment, scams, spam, and other security issues.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but this is Twitter’s first acquisition since buying consumer mobile startup Yes, Inc. back in December 2016

“We are committed to serving the public conversation and ensuring the conversation on Twitter is healthy,” Twitter said of the acquisition. “While our teams continue to focus on building a safer Twitter and partnering with outside experts to deliver on this commitment, we’re exploring how we can work with even more urgency.”

“From ensuring safety and security at some of the world’s largest companies to specialized domain expertise, Smyte’s years of experience with these issues brings valuable insight to our team,” Twitter said in a post.

Online harassment has been of particular concern to Twitter in recent months, as the level of online discourse across the web has become increasingly hate-filled and abusive. The company has attempted to combat this problem with new policies focused on the reduction of hate speech, violent threats, and harassment on its platform, but it’s fair to say that problem is nowhere near solved.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has said that he’s focused on increasing the “health” of Twitter’s platform, as some of the site’s detractors have accused the site of sometimes devolving into a space that allows for hateful and negative comments.

“We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers,” Dorsey tweeted in March. “We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service, or our inability to address it fast enough.”

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