Twitter has a harassment problem, and it’s looking for outside help to help combat Internet trolls that are turning the popular social media platform into a new age platform for bullying. Twitter’s newly formed Trust and Safety Council will work to offer “input on our safety products, policies, and programs” as it tiptoes the line between allowing the proliferation of free speech while at the same time protecting its users from hate speech.
“Twitter empowers every voice to shape the world. But you can’t do that unless you feel safe and confident enough to express yourself freely and connect with the world around you,” writes the Trust and Safety Council. “To help give your voice more power, Twitter does not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice.”
Policing Twitter’s 320 million users is a huge undertaking, so the company is enlisting the help of over 40 organizations (from 13 regions) to help craft policies and programs to help “[enable] everyone, everywhere to express themselves with confidence on Twitter,” said Patricia Cartes, Twitter’s Head of Global Policy Outreach.
Some of the organizations that have joined the fight include the Anti-Defamation League, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Childnet, Family Online Safety Institute, GLAAD, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Unfortunately, we haven’t yet received any word from Twitter on how exactly the Trust and Safety Council will help craft Twitter’s policies from this point forward. While it’s definitely beneficial to have input from so many organizations dedicated to fighting bullying, hate speech and domestic violence, have so many voices will likely add a lot of noise when it comes to trying to craft policies for a social media platform that sees hundreds of millions of tweets fly by on any given day.
Before resigning from his position as Twitter CEO after user growth stalled, Dick Costolo admitted, “We suck and dealing with abuse and trolls.” The proclamation came after the daughter of the late Robin Williams, Zelda, was trolled and harassed so much that she suspended her account.
Costolo laid the blame squarely at his own feet, saying that he personally wasn’t doing enough to combat harassment:
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…
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.
Here were are a year later, and with a new [old] CEO at the helm, maybe we’ll finally see Costolo’s vision come to fruition.