It's no secret that Twitter "sucks" at "dealing with abuse and trolls," CEO Dick Costolo has told employees in an internal memo. In the memo, obtained by The Verge, which published its contents on Wednesday, Costolo added, "Everybody in the world knows...that we have not effectively dealt with this problem even remotely to the degree we should have by now, and that's on me and nobody else."
Costolo made the comments in response to a question from an employee on an internal forum. The employee's post pointed to a recent article in The Guardian in which American writer Lindy West described her encounter with an online troll who harassed her using a Twitter account created using the name of her recently deceased father.
Calling Twitter's failure to aggressively deal with such harassment "embarrassing," Costolo vowed to take full responsibility to fix the problem. "We're going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them," he wrote.
'Don't Ignore the Trolls'
Twitter has been at the center of a number of high-profile trolling controversies. Following Robin Williams' suicide last summer, for example, abusive Tweets directed at his daughter Zelda led her to the decision to delete Twitter from her apps.
Late last month, feminist writer and media critic Anita Sarkeesian -- who has received numerous threats in connection with the Gamergate controversy over misogyny in video games -- posted screenshots of well over 100 abusive Tweets directed at her over the course of one week. And on Monday, writer Lindy West described how she confronted one troll who created a Twitter account in her late father's name.
Rather than ignore the abuse, as she normally tries to do, West said that incident led her to write about it on Jezebel in a post titled "Don't Ignore the Trolls. Feed Them Until They Explode." The day after that post was published, she received an apologetic e-mail from the person who had created the Twitter account.
Harassment Most Prevalent on Social Media
In light of experiences like these, the social networking site last December announced several changes to "make your Twitter experience safer." They included new controls for its account-blocking feature and a more streamlined, mobile-friendly way to flag Tweets and accounts for content violation reviews.
Forty percent of Internet users have experienced online harassment, according to a study released last October by the Pew Research Center. Social media sites are the most common places for such abuse, the report found, although men also reported encountering harassment in online gaming and comments sections.
In his comments to employees on Monday, Costolo acknowledged that abuse on Twitter has hurt the site's appeal. "We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day," he wrote. "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."
Posted: 2015-02-06 @ 9:14pm PT
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