Twitter's abuse problem is absolutely a failure of leadership

Twitter's abuse problem is absolutely a failure of leadership
From TechCrunch - October 12, 2017

Twitter has blundered into yet another moderation crisis after it temporarily suspended the account of actress Rose McGowan as she was using its platform to speak out against sexual harassment of women in the wake of sexual abuse allegations now coming out against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

It appears that Twitters anti-abuse algorithms might have triggered the suspension, though the company declined to comment, telling us: We dont comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.

The suspension was reported earlier byVarietyafter McGowan posted to her Instagram account, saying: TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME. THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE. #ROSEARMY.

Her Twitter account has since been reinstated but the sight of a victim of sexual violence against women being silenced (even temporarily) at the very point that she was denouncing sexual violence against women is, to say the least, not a good look for Twitter.

Especially given extant criticism from many, many female users who face sexualized (and other forms) of abuse on its platformyet when they report threats of rape, for instance, they frequently report being told by Twitter that this type of speech does not violate its community standards.

And that despite Twitters own rulesclaiming to censure Violent threats (direct or indirect) and also stating: You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.

McGowan herself settled with Weinstein in 1997, and has apparently been limited in what she can say publicly about what happened to her as a result of that prior legal agreement. But at the time of her Twitter suspension she was tweeting in support of the women coming out with their own stories of sexual abuse now.

As well as calling out people she perceived to have been supportive of Weinstein and/or complicit in a culture of silence regarding male power in Hollywoodand thus implicated in helping enable a cover-up.

Thus Twitter silencing her voice really couldnt have come at a worse moment

Its possible that McGowans use of a swear word directed at a verified Twitter user, actor Ben Affleck, is what triggered Twitters anti-abuse algorithmsand led to the suspension of her account. But theres no way to be sure given that Twitter isnt commenting.

In other instances women who have received targeted harassment on Twitter have reported their accounts being suspended after their abusers co-ordinated to file multiple reports against them (a well documented tactic utilizing other platforms such as 4Chan to organize pile-ons)whereas their one-report-per-abusive-tweet apparently fails to get the attention of Twitters algorithms.


Continue reading at TechCrunch »