Twitter needs to fix their abuse problem

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Twitter needs to fix their abuse problem

“We suck at dealing with abuse” is how Dick Costolo, former CEO of Twitter, summed up the way that Twitter responds to cyberbullying, harassment, and other abuse on the social media platform. Upon his return to the CEO position in 2015, Jack Dorsey promised to make lasting, effective changes that would create better tools and a better experience for all users. Yet there have been no steps taken towards that goal. If anything, the attacks have gotten worse. Women, minorities, and specifically women of color of still being harassed and attacked at disproportionate rates, which no way to safeguard themselves short of abandoning social media completely.

Celebrities like Leslie Jones and Normani Kordei are just the two most recent and most prominent example of Black women who have been subject to racism, sexism, and hate speech on Twitter. But there are millions more who fall victim to the same attacks every day, while Twitter looks the other way. We can't allow that to continue. Tell Twitter to update their policies and make real, lasting change to protect users from abuse and harassment. 

This is the letter we’ll send to the co-founder and current CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey

Here is the Petition:

Twitter provides a platform for people all over the world to express themselves and connect with like-minded communities. In times of crisis, it can be a lifeline for those in peril. In times of turmoil and unrest, it can provide an unfiltered and accessible communication network for those fighting for freedom. But the potential and power of the platform is undermined when users are left vulnerable to racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of bigotry. It is no accident that women and minorities are often the target of these attacks, with women of color bearing the brunt of the abuse and harassment. Even on Twitter, soceital dynamics of race, gender, and power leave them most vulnerable while their attackers consistently go unpunished. 

It is not enough for Twitter to simply admit that there is a problem with abuse and harassment on their platform while taking no further action on an organizational level. It is not acceptable for Twitter to leave those issues unaddressed except for when the victim is a celebrity, nor to rely on abuse and harassment as a way to drive traffic and increase profits. Black women should not be forced to abandon social media platforms due to unchecked racist and sexist harassment. The solutions are simple:

  1. More broadly and clearly define what constitutes online harassment and abuse

  1. Update the abuse reporting interface & expand the ability for users to filter out abusive comments

  1. Diversify Twitter’s leadership to include women and women of color

To do any less would be an admission that Twitter’s proclaimed devotion towards equality and social justice is just an exploitative marketing tool meant to take advantage of progressive ideals without embodying them. There is no excuse for allowing racists and bigots to spread messages of hate. We ask that you make these changes to your policy on harassment and abuse, and hold accountable those who violate them. As an organization, Twitter has demonstrated an awareness and a commitment to standing on the side of justice and equality. But those commitments must be matched by action, and by having the courage to prevent those would use the platform to spread hate from doing so.