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140-Character Bullying: How Twitter Figured Out How To Silence Trolls

Twitter sucks at dealing with abuse.

No, that's not me attacking the social media giant, but rather an admission by CEO Dick Costolo.

He believes trolling is costing Twitter users and, frankly, he might be on to something.

I've seen some pretty nasty things said on Twitter, and I know I'm not alone.

From rape to death threats, there never seemed to be a real viable solution to getting rid of it, until now.

Starting April 21, 2015, Twitter will be making policy changes that will make it harder for haters to hate and trolls to troll.

The aforementioned CEO of Twitter has taken personal responsibility for failing to really deal with the troll dilemma.

On Twitter's forums on February 2, as reported on The Verge, Dick Costolo said:

“I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front.

“It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing.”

Way to step it up there, Dick.

You know what they say, the first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem.

After reading the rest of his comments in that forum, it does seem like he is indeed acknowledging the problem:

“It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

So, what's being done to remedy the ever-growing trolling pandemic that is plaguing Twitter, Dick?

“So now we're going to fix it, and I'm going to take full responsibility for making sure that the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issue, that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability, and that we don't equivocate in our decisions and choices.”

His posts, actually makes it seem like they plan to do something and not just make campaign promises.

Fast-forward to April 21, and on its blog, Twitter states it will attack the problem with a few different solutions.

One will be making certain policy changes, including, “You may not publish or post threats of violence against others or promote violence against others.”

I would imagine there will be some people who will not like that, as, in their eyes, it infringes on the First Amendment.

But really, using that would just be an excuse to abuse someone just because you “can.”

As far as enforcing the policies, Twitter will give its support team more control to be able to lock offensive accounts for a particular period of time.

They've also begun testing a feature that helps them recognize abusive Tweets. According to the blog:

“This feature takes into account a wide range of signals and context that frequently correlates with abuse, including the age of the account itself, and the similarity of a Tweet to other content that our safety team has in the past independently determined to be abusive.”

So, how do we feel about this? Are we okay with surrendering control of what we can and can't say, regardless of how damaging to another human being it could potentially be? Is this a step in the right direction to help protect people from feeling bullied and/or fearful for their own safety?

Going back to that conversation on Twitters forum, it was Adrian Cole who said,

“I'm aware that Twitter is well within its rights to let its platform be used as a vehicle for sexist and racist harassment.

“But, as a private company – just like a comedian mulling over a rape joke, or a troll looking for a target for his anger – it could choose not to. As a collective of human beings, it could choose to be better.”

Not to sound pretentious, but we should all always choose to be better.

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Alex Lopez

Contributor

Alex Lopez grew up on the street, where there was a house. In that house, he learned about sports, video games, movies and the fine art of dog breeding. Feel free to not contact him on Twitter.
Alex Lopez grew up on the street, where there was a house. In that house, he learned about sports, video games, movies and the fine art of dog breeding. Feel free to not contact him on Twitter.

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