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Twitter Acquires Anti-Abuse Startup Smyte to Curb Hate on Its Platform

The Twitter Inc. homepage is displayed on a computer monitor.Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Twitter has agreed to purchase Smyte, a technology company focused on providing tools to thwart online harassment, the social media giant announced Thursday morning.

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 According to an archived version of its website from last month, Smyte boasted several high-profile clients such as Indiegogo, Musically and Quora prior to its deal with Twitter.

“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.”

Twitter’s decision to acquire Smyte and its anti-abuse technology comes as no surprise as it has long struggled to combat bullying and bots on its platform. In January, Twitter, like Facebook, faced heavy scrutiny when it announced that at least 1.4 million of its users in the U.S. interacted with Russian propaganda-linked accounts during the 2016 presidential election.

“We have witnessed abuse, harassment, troll armies, manipulation through bots and human-coordination, misinformation campaigns, and increasingly divisive echo chambers,” Twitter CEO Jack 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.”

Last year, Twitter enacted more rigid rules intended to end the spread of hate speech on the platform by deleting tweets that promoted violence and permanently suspending repeated offenders. However, Twitter’s new partnership with Smyte seems to be a step forward for the company as it searches for more “proactive” approaches to solving the issue.

“The health of the conversation on Twitter remains our top priority and we’re looking forward to approaching this work with an expanded team and new technology,” Twitter said.