This morning, BuzzFeed came out with a scathing report about how Twitter has operated as a platform that enables stalking, harassment and the posting of private information. For ten years, users of all types–from the average user to the high profile blogger–have been abused on the platform. The frightening thing is that Twitter’s own CEO has acknowledged that they “suck at dealing with abuse and trolls … and we’ve sucked at it for years.”
But they must still suck — it’s probably why BuzzFeed came out with its expose. From interviews with nearly a dozen former executives, one learns how Twitter has always been positioned to fail in its handling of harassment and abuse. Taking a page out of the Blogger playbook, free speech has been embedded into the DNA of the platform. While that has had its merits, it has also made the platform a playground for trolls. From infrastructure issues to the attraction of anonymity, many people have been pushed away.
Twitter has responded with nothing more than a basic acknowledgment of the article, reporting that “we were contacted just last night for comment.” This begs the question: this issue is not a new issue at all. While BuzzFeed may have posted without a comment from Twitter, why hasn’t Twitter been prepared to respond to this issue for the ten years it’s been a problem?
It’s already been several hours — and Twitter’s response is paltry at best. The fact that they’re ill-prepared to handle one of the biggest problems surrounding the social network is concerning, especially with the reputation this matter has given the social network.
Maybe it’s time to give its safety and security team a little more priority, just like it has recently given more prominence to account verification. Here’s hoping Twitter is planning on eventually (sooner rather than later) responding to prioritize safety on the site.
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Author: Tamar Weinberg