Twitter finally finds the right tone

Please note this post is from my previous blog. To read my posts during the 2017 General Election campaign click here.

Last week I argued that Twitter UK had got its response to its trolling/abuse/threats crisis all wrong, and that it should have held its hands up straight away and taken immediate action to roll out its existing ‘report abuse’ button to all platforms.

Yesterday the company finally found the right tone.  In a statement starting with “It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter”, it promises an all-platform ‘report abuse’ button from next month, improved rules and a new partnership with the UK Safer Internet Centre including free promotion through its promoted tweets advertising system.

More important than the statement is the parallel apology that is now being widely reported in the media this weekend. Twitter UK boss Tony Wang tweeted;

 

 

 

Better late than never, I suppose, although they will now be reflecting on the long-term implications of the reputational damage of this needless week-long delay.  Today’s news that Mary Beard and others have now received bomb threats from Twitter trolls will not help.

The best thing they can do now is seize the initiative and be seen to be pro-active in rolling out the changes promised yesterday – particularly around the roll-out of the report abuse button next month.

Now is also exactly the right time to do something to address (in a limited way) the opposing concerns over free speech and the danger of the abuse button itself being abused.  As I wrote on Tuesday, they need to get their ingenious creative types onto that problem ASAP and come up with something to convince and reassure both sides of the debate.

After finally finding the right tone, Twitter now needs a little triangulation to regain the initiative – but more importantly for the rest of us, it needs to make sure that the changes coming in next month are a genuine solution to a problem that otherwise isn’t going to go away any time soon.

As for today’s #twittersilence from campaigners, it is surely a sign of Twitter’s total domination of all of our lives that they can only manage a boycott lasting one day (and on a Sunday at that).  The timing of such a protest also seems odd given the steps Twitter took yesterday.  And as Duncan Bannatyne just rightly tweeted, isn’t the idea of women in public life going silent exactly what the trolls want?  To me, it seems like a backwards step for campaigners.

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