A memo written by Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has been leaked, with Costolo admitting that Twitter "sucks at dealing with trolls."
The memo also resolved that Twitter needs to fight online abuse head-on. But what exactly can Twitter do to put an end to harassment on Twitter?
1. Twitter Needs To Get Ruthless
Twitter has been very passive about its online abuse problem. The company has not made real efforts to combat the issue.
"To follow Facebook's lead, Twitter would have to become much more responsive to user complaints, essentially issuing warnings and shutting accounts down whenever any user is accused of abusive behavior," said Lance Strate, professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University, in an email with Tech Times.
Twitter, however, is in the middle of a balancing act. The service currently has a very "open" vibe about it, and cracking down too hard on users could take away from this.
"The problem they face in the virtual world is exactly the same problem we face in open societies in real life, between security and freedom, the needs of the community and the rights of the individual," continued Strate.
2. Twitter Needs to Be Public About Its Abuse Battle
Online abuse is not a problem unique to Twitter. YouTube is notorious for Internet trolls that comment on videos with the idea of wanting to take people down a peg. Often comments aren't even related to the videos being posted.
The problem for Twitter, however, is a little different because of the public relations issues involved. If Twitter is going to successfully put an end to abuse on its platform, it needs to be public about it. The issues surrounding public abuse on Twitter could end tomorrow, but that doesn't mean that users will think that it has. Twitter's reputation is important when it comes to gaining users. In fact, many users have left Twitter because of its online abuse problem, and it's likely that they won't come back until Twitter is able to successfully deal with the problem.
3. Twitter Needs To Do It In-House
In the past, Twitter has rather famously left dealing with online abuse to third parties, most notably Women, Action and the Media (WAM!).
The fact that Twitter has not dealt with the problem internally shows a lack of caring from the company. It seems, however, as though the company will finally be stepping up.
Twitter must deal with the problem in-house, and must hire people to deal with it. The tools for the company to be able to combat online abuse have been put in place -- there is a "blocked accounts" page where users can see who has been blocked from their feed, for example, and users can more easily report issues. Now Twitter needs to have employees that deal with those problems.