I love Twitter. 45,000 Tweets. 263,000 Likes (even though they’ll always be Favs to me). Their commitment to free speech has always been clear (thank you amac!). But they’re, by many accounts, losing users to continued abuse and trolling. And Twitter has said they want to fix this, but never published a roadmap as to how they intend to do so.
Today I was drawn to SNL comedian Leslie Jones’ timeline. Currently starring in Ghostbusters, she seems like exactly the type of celebrity account Twitter wants. Funny, engaging, speaking openly – not just through social media managers. On the Monday after her movie opened to a $40m+ debut she should be interacting with fans. Instead she spent the day dealing with a deluge of racist tweets in her mentions.
There’s a relatively simple change that perhaps Twitter can make and it involves the difference between what you can say in your house versus what’s ok to come into my house and say.
If some low-class individual wants to tweet in their account that Leslie Jones is all sort of awful things, including comments that might be racist, let them do it so long as they’re not tagging her (and of course violating other Community Standards around direct threats, etc). If this person’s followers find that entertaining, then whatever, that’s a group of people I can ignore or block.
But when this person comes into Leslie’s house by replying to her tweets or tagging her, boom, if she reports it for harassment, take it seriously. If it’s racist, violent, profane it deserves attention. It’s not ok to come into Leslie’s house and say these things to her, even if they are protected by free speech. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to come on my lawn and start shouting despicable things at me.
I know this isn’t a perfect solution but to me at least, there’s a big difference between the people who want to say horrible shit into the wind versus those who seek out specific people to target and offend. The latter don’t belong on Twitter’s service.