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Twitter CEO Memo: We Suck At Dealing With Trolls

| 6 Feb 2015 15:15

In a leaked internal memo, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admits he's "ashamed of how poorly" the company deals with trolling and online abuse.

Twitter is one of the more unique forms of social media today, and not simply for its 140 character post count. Its open format allows anyone in the world to instantly follow and interact with anyone else, creating unique communications between content creators, pop culture figures, and fans. The downside is that's it's incredibly easy for trolls to break the system, dishing out abuse and harassment on an unprecedented scale. It's an issue everyone knows about, and Twitter is no exception - Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acknowledged the company's poor record in a leaked internal memo, and took personal responsibility for the problem.

"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," Costolo wrote on Twitter's internal forum. "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."

The memo was provided in response to employee questions about Lindy West, who wrote very publicly about the online abuse she faced personally. Twitter has attempted to address online abuse issues in the past - the company attempted to improve its reporting tools in Dec. 2014 and partnered with advocacy group WAM! to investigate harassment against women. But at best, this is an uphill battle for Twitter, and if Costolo's follow-up note is to be believed he feels personally responsible:

Let me be very very clear about my response here. I take PERSONAL responsibility for our failure to deal with this as a company. I thought i did that in my note, so let me reiterate what I said, which is that I take personal responsibility for this. I specifically said "It's nobody's fault but mine"

We HAVE to be able to tell each other the truth, and the truth that everybody in the world knows is that we have not effectively dealt with this problem even remotely to the degree we should have by now, and that's on me and nobody else. 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.

Twitter has declined comment on the memo, but with a fourth quarter earnings call scheduled for this afternoon, trolls and online abuse will almost certainly be on the agenda now.

Source: The Verge, via The Guardian

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