Why does social media move so slowly? Twitter installs abuse button, finally.

Just now, Twitter has decided to add a Report Abuse button to its site.

This was in response to Caroline Criado-Perez, a feminist who in pointing out it would be nice to keep a woman on the £10 note, received heaps of abuse, for her campaign.

What is disturbing about this isn't that the trolls are out in their full anonymous force, so much as the fact that Twitter only acted after a petition on change.org got enough attention.

Otherwise they were content to let it slide:

Ms. Criado-Perez said: “It’s infuriating that the price you pay for standing up for women is 24 hours of rape threats. We are showing that by standing together we can make a real difference. We made the Bank of England change its mind, we can do the same with Twitter.”

My problem with this is not that it took a rape threat plus petition for twitter to act. But so many infractions were committed over the past few years while Twitter ignored it.

Keep in mind what Spike Lee did last year in the ensuing wake of the George Zimmerman trial. Spike Lee retweeted what he thought was George Zimmerman's address to his half a million followers. Never mind the fact this should have been seen as inciting a riot, which is in fact illegal, the idiot got the wrong address, and was rightly lambasted for it. By the way, Roseanne Barr when one step further by tweeting the correct address.

So now twitter is going to start enforcing some rules. Which is nice and incredibly ironic, considering they already have rules in place:

Impersonation: You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that does or is intended to mislead, confuse, or deceive others.

Trademark: We reserve the right to reclaim usernames on behalf of businesses or individuals that hold legal claim or trademark on those usernames. Accounts using business names and/or logos to mislead others may be permanently suspended.

Private information: You may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission.

Violence and Threats: You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others.

Copyright: We will respond to clear and complete notices of alleged copyright infringement. Our copyright procedures are set forth in the Terms of Service.

Unlawful Use: You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content.

Misuse of Twitter Badges: You may not use badges, such as but not limited to the Promoted or Verified Twitter badge, unless provided by Twitter. Accounts using these badges as part of profile photos, header photos, background images, or in a way that falsely implies affiliation with Twitter may be suspended.

As a bonus, this snarky post on tumblr from journalist Helen Lewis essentially underscores the idiocy that is the twitter abuse apologist.

My favorite is the last in the series:

So in conclusion, we should do something about online abuse. Just not any of the things that have been suggested, because I know much more about the internet than you and they aren’t even worth discussing to see if there’s a kernel of usefulness in there.

Twitter you should really start thinking like Oreos. You've been around for seven years now. Time to start moderating before someone gets raped or killed.

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Dabitch's picture

While I think it's about time in one sense - Twitter is being used as communication channels by large brands and anarchy doesn't mix real well with commercialism - in another sense I think this isn't twitter's job. This is the police's job. As so clearly shown in the UK where several pople have been arrested, and tried, for threats made on twitter.

Threatening people isn't just uncool, it's actually illegal. The problem lies in certain areas where the police don't actually police. Perhaps they don't have enough manpower. Perhaps there's a limited reach of the local laws that make them unable to prosecute people based on direct threats. Perhaps the amount of idiotic threats are so many, the po-po plain don't have time as they're quite busy busting drug dealers, investigating burglaries and stopping drunk drivers already.

That said, twitter doesn't have to make it easier for harassers to start up an anonymous account and threaten people with it. Everyone cheers when Twitter refuses to turn over the DM's sent to Wikileaks but are agast when twitter refuses to reveal the IP# of an account that threatens rape, bloody murder and/or incites violence and riots.

The crass truth is, if twitter wants brands to stick around - and they do - they will have to police their beat.

I wish we could buy our way to a "verified" account. One where we could pay ten bucks for processing, and show our ID or something to get that verified thing.

kidsleepy's picture

As far as I'm concerned, it became twitter's job the moment it posted Twitter rules. Why post rules if you don't enforce them?

I agree that if the police started investigating every last troll then there'd have to be like 30,000 more people on the force.

Still, I would twitter step it up rather than say, create the social media equivalent to the FTC.

I like your idea of buying into a verified account especially because it would also earn twitter a profit.