Stanford grad creates Block Party app to filter out Twitter trolls

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Saturday, January 30, 2021
Stanford grad creates app to filter out Twitter trolls
Stanford graduate and tech entrepreneur Tracy Chou created the Block Party app to give social media users more control over filtering out negative comments on their posts.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With so much harassment and vitriol on social media these days, what if you had a tool to filter out all the trolls and attacks?

A Bay Area tech entrepreneur, who's a known diversity and ethics activist, knows a lot about being harassed.

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So she built a new app called Block Party, to fight back against trolls.

Tracy Chou, founder of the app, is also a Stanford grad who had been an engineer at Pinterest and Quora before launching the nonprofit Project Include.

She joined ABC7 News Friday on Midday Live to talk about the new app and how it works.

"We want to give control back to users, so they can control what they see or don't see," Chou said.

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Users can download Block Party, link their Twitter account, and then set up filters. Anything that doesn't pass your personalized filters will go into a separate folder, Chou explained.

From there, you can check the folder to make sure something good wasn't accidentally placed there, or see if there are comments you need to be aware of.

It's all about having control over when you see the comments.

"A lot of this is coming out of my own experiences having dealt with harassment," Chou said, "and knowing the psychological impact of having to see all this negativity."

"It can be quite traumatizing, and at the same time, pretending it doesn't exist is also unsafe," she said.

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That's why Block Party mutes these "potential abusers" but also saves their comments for review.

Chou says that second part is important in cases of physical threats or stalking, where someone may need to take further action or safety precautions.

You might be asking, "Can't Twitter already do this for you?"

Chou says while you can report it yourself, it can be a major burden, especially in cases where a user has thousands of comments to monitor.

The other problem is when self-reporting to Twitter, oftentimes users don't get a response. With Block Party, not only can you filter your feed on your own, but you can add third party members like employees or trusted friends to help you review what has been filtered into the "blocked" folder.

Block Party is only Twitter-compatible for now, but plans to expand to other platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

It's free for now, but Chou says they are working on premium features for subscription for those who need extra filtering.