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Twitter taking the torch to trolls

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has vowed to rid the platform of bullies in any way possible, but he might have a fight on his hands.

A memo written by Costolo was leaked to The Verge, showing that the Chief Executive Officer of the micro-blogging platform believes that users with nefarious intentions are largely responsible for high-profile users shying away from maintaining an account.

In the memo, Costolo said: “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 added: “So now we’re going to fix it, and I’m going to take full responsibility for making sure that the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issue, that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability, and that we don’t equivocate in our decisions and choices.”

The memo comes in the wake of an article by author and comedian Lindy West, who has been on the receiving end of anonymous abuse more than once. In the article West wrote: “I’m aware that Twitter is well within its rights to let its platform be used as a vehicle for sexist and racist harassment. But, as a private company – just like a comedian mulling over a rape joke, or a troll looking for a target for his anger – it could choose not to. As a collective of human beings, it could choose to be better.”

Twitter has already implemented new reporting tools which make it easier for people to turn in trolls and bullies, but it seems like these measures simply aren’t enough to keep the site a nice, civil place to frequent. Stamping out harassment altogether is likely to prove a problem for Twitter, while users are able to manufacture anonymous account after anonymous account.

Any standard measures brought in are likely to be circumvented quickly because, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park, the trolls will find a way.


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