Twitter CEO to employees: “We suck at dealing with abuse.”
Why yes, yes you do. What was your first clue?
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is taking personal responsibility for his platform’s chronic problems with harassment and abuse, telling employees that he is embarrassed for the company’s failures and would soon be taking stronger action to eliminate trolls. He said problems with trolls are driving away the company’s users. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Costolo wrote in an internal memo obtained by The Verge. “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.”
And you know what else? You don’t lose core trolls. Core users leave, and trolls stay. There’s a downside to that.
Costolo’s comments came in response to a question on an internal forum about a recent story by Lindy West, a frequent target of harassment on Twitter. Among other things, West’s tormentors created a Twitter account for her then recently-deceased father and made cruel comments about her on the service; West recently shared her story on This American Life and the Guardian.
Ahhhhhh, that was your first clue. I was wondering. Thanks for the clarification.
You could have paid attention a lot sooner, and avoided this embarrassment, but…
An employee on the internal forum pointed out that Twitter is “within its rights to let its platform be used as a vehicle for sexist and racist harassment” but could choose not to. It could choose to be better.
On Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 8:35 PM, Dick Costolo wrote:
We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. 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.
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.
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.
Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.
Ok, well, now we get to hold him to it.
Twitter had made a couple of worthless passes at attempting to pretend to prepare to almost do something about it, but…
But every day, Twitter users still face threats of physical violence, sexual abuse, and stalking — all forms of harassment that disproportionately affect women online, according to data from The Pew Center.
Just last week, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesiandocumented the harassment she received on Twitter from January 20th to the 26th. You’ll have to scroll for awhile before you hit the end of tweets containing gendered insults, victim blaming, incitement to suicide, sexual violence, rape and death threats.
And lies. Don’t forget lies. There are always lies – masses of them.