Twitter's new safety council


… does not fill me with confidence:

Twitter UK’s head of policy, Nick Pickles, said that the global council would include the mental health charity the Samaritans, the advice charity the Safer Internet Centre, and the Internet Watch Foundation, a specialist organisation that deals with criminal content including child abuse material.

“I don’t think we will have all the answers, but it is important to seek expertise in these still very young issues,” he said. “We want to make sure we hear different views and think about these challenges in the fullest and most nuanced way.”

Pickles said there wouldn’t be one particular safety project but “regular and consistent action” through the year. “This comes from the top of the company – safety is never finished.”

Uh huh.



You are right not to be filled with confidence. It seems that Twitter has a longstanding disinterest in dealing with harassment, feeling that ‘free speech’ is more important.

“A Honeypot For Assholes”: Inside Twitter’s 10-Year Failure To Stop Harassment

It’s a long but worthwhile read, and highlights how important diversity in your workforce can help prevent problems like this from arising,

They were also limited by a workforce that multiple former employees say fundamentally didn’t understand what abuse looks and feels like. “The decision-makers were not people who got abuse and didn’t understand that it’s not about content, it’s about context,” Miley said. “If Twitter had people in the room who’d been abused on the internet — meaning not just straight, white males — when they were creating the company, I can assure you the service would be different.” A 2015 Women, Action, and the Media study revealed that, as of 2014, Twitter’s leadership was 79% male and 72% white.



What do we call stories which are just a collection of tweets on a subject? A tweeticle?

So, here’s a tweeticle highlighting the hypocricy of Twitter for being so quick to take down content related to the Olympics while struggling to do the same for harassment.

Why Isn’t Twitter Taking Down Harassment As Fast As It Takes Down Olympics Content?



Verification isn’t a status symbol — it’s a necessary shield against harassment

This is an appalling story - a ‘notable’ woman requests verification from Twitter, providing all the documentation they requested still couldn’t get verified. Meanwhile her husband asked for verification ‘as a joke’ and got it. Besides the obvious sexism, the article explains really well why verification matters: it’s not just a status symbol, but can be used to help filter out harassment.



“It Only Adds To The Humiliation” — How Twitter Responds To Harassers
A long but worthwhile read on how twitter consistently fails to deal with reports of harassment.

“46% of respondents told BuzzFeed News that the last time they reported an abusive tweet to Twitter, the company took no action on their request; their only recourse was to personally block the offending account. Another 29% who reported abusive tweets said they never heard anything back at all. And 18% of those who reported an abusive tweet said they were told that the tweet did not violate Twitter’s rules, which explicitly forbid violent threats, harassment, and hateful conduct. In just 56 instances (2.6% of the time) respondents said Twitter deleted the offending account, and in 22 instances (1% of the time) respondents said Twitter issued a warning to the user who’d sent the tweet. Of the 2,115 people who responded to this particular survey question, just five individuals reported being contacted by a Twitter representative to discuss the abuse they reported.”



Twitter adds new options to curb abuse, harassment
Twitter is finally taking steps to curb abuse but I have to say, I’m really not impressed. This step doesn’t stop the abuser, it just stops the abused hearing it.



Social media and the silencing effect: why misogyny online is a human rights issue
A report on an Amnesty International survey of women about their experiences of harassment online. The results are horrifying but unfortunately not at all surprising. Women are being harassed at an alarming rate and this is leading them to be silenced.

“After five years of online harassment coupled with offline harassment, I have basically reconciled with the fact that I’m prepared to die for the work I do. That might happen. If you get 200 death threats, it only takes one person who really wants to kill you.”

This bears repeating — Pamela [Merritt, who blogs at] has reconciled herself to dying for expressing herself online. The gravity of this problem has been severely underestimated.