Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has admitted that the social network is terrible at dealing with abusive users, and blames himself for how bad it’s become. The Verge has obtained internal memos from the company, in which Costolo emphasises that things need to change.
In one he writes, ‘We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.’ He goes on to take full responsibility for this failure, saying, ‘I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.’ He also promises to kick abusive users off the platform ‘left and right’.
Quite how he plans to do so isn’t yet clear: a lot of trolls will set up multiple accounts to harass people from and there’s always the option to create yet another one. But it’s heartening to hear that the company’s top brass actually have this issue on their radar. In the past, with its dismissive response to rape and death threats and complicated form for reporting offenders, it seemed like Twitter didn’t really care that users (primarily women) were being targetted.
But things seem to have escalated in the last year or so, with #Gamergate and Lindy West’s recent This American Life piece about a troll who set up an account with her late dad’s name and photo. Who knows whether Costolo is motivated by basic humanity, bad publicity, or the desire to stop leaking users (from his memos, it certainly seems like that’s part of it). But whatever the case, here’s hoping the company will actually start to stop abusive users in their tracks.
Neither the Twitter CEO nor any other company rep has confirmed that ending abuse will be a priority going forward. But now Costolo’s intentions have been made public, it should be harder for them to weasel out of doing so.
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