Harassment is not the same as trolling

The BBC reports on the Verge’s publication of Costolo’s admission that Twitter sucks at preventing harassment. That’s good, because it puts Costolo and Twitter that much more on the spot. Yes, Twitter, you suck at preventing harassment. Yes, Mr Costolo, Twitter sucks at preventing harassment.

Twitter’s chief executive Dick Costolo has admitted that the company “sucks” when it comes to dealing with abuse and trolling on the service.

In a memo to staff, leaked to tech news website the Verge, he said that bullying behaviour on the network was driving users away.

He promised tougher action to deal with abusers.

A series of high-profile users have quit Twitter in recent months, citing online abuse.

And you know what else? Low-profile users have also quit Twitter because of abuse. So have medium-profile users and people at all points in between. It almost seems as if the only people who don’t quit Twitter are the ones who are there to abuse people.

Unfortunately the BBC article then goes on to answer the question “What can be done to stop trolling?” and two of its four answers reveal that it doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

  • Users could ignore the post – the troll’s goal is to get a reaction and some say by responding you are “feeding the troll”
  • Some have suggested a new system that allows those who are being trolled to choose not to be shown accounts that are less than 30 days old, as a lot of trolling is done from a new account

Getting a reaction is not the troll’s only goal – and there’s more to all this than mere trolling. Many of the abusers on Twitter are intent on damaging and silencing the people they target – destroying their reputations, getting people to believe lies about them, degrading and shaming them. It’s systematic and sustained, and merely concealing it from the target does nothing whatsoever about that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *