Twitter’s problem with unsolicited abuse by dickheads reached a depressing peak following the death of Robin Williams. His daughter, Zelda Williams quit the social network following a series of abusive tweets. Yeah, we’re not sure what the hell is wrong with people either.
I’m sorry. I should’ve risen above. Deleting this from my devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye.
— Zelda Williams (@zeldawilliams) August 13, 2014
Following this, according to the Washington Post, Twitter has vowed to act. According to the paper, Del Harvey who is Twitter’s VP of Trust & Safety said:
“We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one. This includes expanding our policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users.”
So whilst this is unspecific, it does appear that Twitter may finally act on all of the calls to deal with the problem – which isn’t isolated to Williams. For a long time many people – especially women – have found themselves the targets of anonymous Twitter users’ ire.
The dilemma for Twitter is going to be how best to deal with the problem without fundamentally changing the way that Twitter works: With its open network being part of what makes it so successful and unique. And though there have been many different proposals for systems to prevent abusive messages, none have proved foolproof. One such recent attempt at dealing with it, The Block Bot, has been controversial in terms of the means in which it selects who is and is not worthy of being heard.
It’ll be interesting to see what Twitter comes up with.