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Twitter’s Highest-Profile Users Get VIP Treatment When Trolls Strike

‘Project Guardian’ aims to protect prominent tweeters from abuse, harassment

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.

Twitter headquarters in San Francisco.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Twitter Inc.’s highest-profile users—those with lots of followers or particular prominence—often receive a heightened level of protection from the social network’s content moderators under a secretive program that seeks to limit their exposure to trolls and bullies.

Code-named Project Guardian, the internal program includes a list of thousands of accounts most likely to be attacked or harassed on the platform, including politicians, journalists, musicians and professional athletes. When someone flags abusive posts or messages related to those users, the reports are prioritized by Twitter’s content moderation systems, meaning the company reviews them faster than other reports in the queue.

Twitter says its rules are the same for all users, but Project Guardian ensures that potential issues related to prominent accounts—those that could erupt into viral nightmares for the users and for the company—are dealt with ahead of complaints from people who aren’t part of the program. This VIP group, which most members don’t even know they’re a part of, is intended to remove abusive content that could have the most reach and is most liable to spread on the social-media site. It also helps protect the Twitter experience of those prominent users, making them more likely to keep tweeting—and perhaps less apt to complain about abuse or harassment issues publicly.