Twitter recently updated its terms of service to prevent abuse and threats from further affecting its users. In its policy related to reporting violent threats, the company included also promoting violence against others, rather than limiting it to “direct, specific threats of violence against others.”
On Tuesday, Twitter announced that the previous policy was too “narrow” as it hindered how the company could handle threats.
Moreover, enforcement teams are currently allowed to lock an abuser’s account for certain periods of time, it they were found guilty of abusing other users. Abusive users, aka “trolls,” can regain access to their accounts after they delete their hate mongering tweets.
On the other hand, abusive talk is the new normal on social media, including Facebook and Twitter. Usually, some people who see they can escape the responsibility of their own actions by hiding behind an alias let their mouth loose. And they usually offend people that in real life they couldn’t for fear of a lawsuit or a punch in the nose.
However, there’s a thin line between free speech and infringing other people’s rights and people often fail to understand that your freedom ends where mine begins. Yet, Twitter’s policy of enhancing freedom of speech was misinterpreted by some users.
Several Twitter users that employ their freedom of speech as a shield to excuse their misconduct even resorted to death threats. And regular users are not the only victims. Even high-profile ones are. For instance Caroline Criado-Perez, a free-lance journalist and women rights activist, said that she was threatened with rape and death over the course of several days.
In Ms. Criado-Perez’s case, an online- petition requested that Twitter improved its retaliation against abusive users. The company said that it would take online abuse seriously and would start suspending accounts of abusive users.
Nevertheless, the harassment continued. Late last year, Twitter rolled out a new set of tools to facilitate reporting of abusive behavior. The move was triggered by several Twitter users that trash-talked Robin Williams’ daughter after her father’s death.
Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist who criticized how women were represented in video games, decided to leave her home to find safety at her relatives after receiving several death and rape threats . She also canceled a public speech during that period.
Two months ago, Twitter chief executive Dick Costolo sent an internal memo to his employees to share his concerns over the epidemics of abuse and harassment that hit the social media platform.
“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.[…] We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”
CEO Costolo wrote in his memo.
Moreover, Mr. Costolo even took full responsibility of the current situation because he failed to address it properly during his tenure as CEO. He also said that he was both ashamed and embarrassed that he hadn’t been more aggressive with online abusers. He promised that his company would start kick trolls off and make sure that nobody ever hears their “ridiculous attacks.”
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