It’s hard to believe that that much racism, hate, misogyny and a hoard of other gross things can come from 140 characters or less, but when it comes to Twitter we all know that the social media company’s hate policy is slightly… lacking.
After all, this is the platform where the likes of SNL star Leslie Jones was brutally attacked and bullied by haters for being herself, a personality like Donald Trump is able to (over)share his exhortations against several nations, leaders and fake news, and everyday people are able to spew hatred towards one another without any real repercussions.
But hopefully that’s all about to change.
Perhaps it was the slime that surfaced with the Harvey Weinstein allegations. Or maybe #gamergate had a lasting impact on someone high up. Whatever led to this week’s declaration, Twitter seems like it’s finally ready to change its minimalist approach to moderation. And we say it’s about freaking time.
CEO Jack Dorsey finally came around late last week and agreed that the current policy isn’t working, acknowledging that Twitter is becoming a place of widespread hatred (not to mention PR nightmares) and that needs to change.
“We see voices being silenced on Twitter every day,” he wrote on his own account, @jack. “We’ve been working to counteract this for the past two years.”
What, exactly, the company has been doing remains to be seen. Dorsey promises a more “aggressive” stance in the rules and in enforcing them, but how, when and what that entails is still a little murky.
“Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re *still* not doing enough,” Dorsey cryptically explained. “We’ve been working intensely over the past few months and focused today on making some critical decisions.”
Supposedly, the new rules will specifically crack down on “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence.” So you know, the things that most socially decent people tend to stay away from in the first place. Why Twitter ignored so much awfulness — including swastikas, blatant hatred and icky sexual misconduct — in the first place is beyond us.
But hey, good on Twitter for doing something about it now. Mind you, it seems like they HAD to do something given all of the feedback as of late. Especially after they suspended Rose McGowan‘s account as she was speaking out about her own Weinstein sexual abuse story.
Recently, women have boycotted the platform using the #WomenBoycott Twitter hashtag, or else using #WOCAffirmation to showcase the achievements women of colour have had, given the hatred against them online. Definitely PR nightmares for the company.
We’ll have to wait and see what kind of real changes Dorsey and his colleagues are implementing, whether that will be more human moderators or a different training room. Whatever it is, we can only hope that the CEO’s statements mean real change, and that other social media platforms follow suit.