Twitter has a rampant abuse and trolling problem — even its CEO knows it. But the social network claims it has made some big strides to mend this issue.
Twitter says it now receives five times as many abuse reports than it did six months ago, and has tripled the number of staff reviewing those reports within the same time period.
The company also announced on Thursday that it was rolling out new procedures to deal with rule-breakers. However, it didn’t describe the changes in much detail.
“These new actions will not be visible to the vast majority of rule-abiding Twitter users, but they give us new options for acting against the accounts that don’t follow the rules, and serve to discourage behavior that goes against our policies,” Twitter said in a blog post.
According to The Verge, the company will start tracking the phone numbers of users known to repeatedly harass others.
In December, Twitter first began rolling out ways to make it easier to report abuse. The reporting process was truncated (it used to be a lengthy questionnaire), and the company introduced a “blocked accounts” page to help users better monitor people they don’t want seeing their account.
One major example of Twitter’s abuse problem: Gamergate. Feminist video game critic Anita Sarkeesian screencapped and posted to Tumblr 157 abusive tweets she received in just one week. (A particularly vulgar slang term appears 31 times in the messages, as well as a slew of rape and violence threats.)
In an internal memo that leaked earlier this month, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo took personal responsibility for the company’s abuse problem, and pledged to pour resources into making things better:
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.
Costolo also gave a lengthy interview to The New York Times on Wednesday about Twitter abuse, and commented on the leaked internal memos. “One of the reasons I was so blunt about it was that I wanted to really send a wake-up call to the company that we’re going to get a lot more aggressive about it, and it’s going to start right now,” he said. Read more…