Twitter’s Problem with User Abuse and Hate Speech
Over the years, Twitter has become a hotspot for user harassment. Learn more about the issue and how Twitter finally plans to address it.
The future of Twitter is still unknown — largely thanks to the abundance of hate speech and harassment that occurs on the platform. Because of this, Twitter has earned a reputation as a place that tolerates hate speech and abuse. Combine this with Twitter’s decline in value and inability to attract new users, and you can see why the social network is suffering.
Not that long ago, big-name companies like Google, Verizon, Microsoft, Disney, and Salesforce were interested in buying Twitter. However, due to Twitter’s declining stock and reputation as a platform for hate speech, Google, Microsoft, Disney, and Salesforce have all withdrawn their bids. Disney, which had shown heavy interest in purchasing Twitter, ultimately feared that Twitter’s reputation would hurt their “wholesome” family image.
Read More: Why the Future of Twitter is On the Line
Freedom of Speech?
For years, Twitter has been seen as a platform for free speech. While encouraging freedom of speech can be considered a noble pursuit, the company has received a lot of criticism for its tolerance of user abuse. As a private company, they can take action against hate speech on their platform. In addition, Twitter doesn’t require users to use their real names or information. The combination of both aspects has allowed for hate speech and abuse to flourish. This has caused many prominent Twitter members, such as celebrities and journalists, to “quit” Twitter.
Increasingly, critics have demanded that Twitter take action against their abusive users. With Twitter’s decrease in popularity and its future unclear, it’s no wonder that Twitter has finally started to address its harassment and abuse problem. Twitter needs to correct its image and negative reputation — especially, if the company wants to survive.
How Twitter Has Responded
Over the past year, Twitter has taken certain measures to address harassment and abuse. They have improved their system for reporting user abuse, and they added a Trust & Safety Council to help monitor behavior and prevent and report harassment. They have also started to ban frequently abusive users and dismantle hate groups. For example, over the summer they banned a prominent radical Twitter user who encouraged his followers to harass other users. Further, they have added quality and notification filters, which allow users to adjust the types of posts and notifications they receive.
While these measures have been important and successful, there are still issues of harassment and abuse, particularly with minority groups and women. Although Twitter’s abuse problem is not necessarily unique to Twitter — Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks also struggle with user harassment — if the company wants to survive, then it needs to find a more effective way to deal with user abuse. Until then, any new features that they add, such as live streaming, will be ineffective at generating new users.