Twitter’s abuse policy was originally intended to protect users from harassment. Sadly, the regulation worked the exact opposite way, and the social media micro-blogging website is now reversing it.
Around the time when Black Lives Matter had been formed in response to increased media coverage of unarmed members of the black community being shot and killed by police officers, Twitter had caught a proverbial firestorm. Black users who felt the most strongly about a resurgence in racist actions regularly took to the social media site to take the fight not only to the streets but to the internet.
While buildings were burned and looted in the name of fighting injustice, anyone even suspected of being racist became subjected to public beatdowns, on and offline.
In the process, however, many white Twitter users who said anything even remotely negative about the black community were often “dogpiled” and labeled as racists. This wasn’t the worst part, though. Twitter’s option to add users to lists under specific labels gave future angry Twitter users a menu of victims. Sometimes the victim didn’t even know they had said anything wrong, and suddenly they were swarmed by angry users who felt the need to take it out on someone they didn’t even know.
The problem became even worse as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ran for President in 2016, leading to a radical divide on social media and even more inclusive labeling and lists. Donald Trump’s followers, or anyone expressing any level of support, were instantly labeled as anything liberals wanted to call them, and added to said lists.
After the election had ended, and Trump won the Electoral College vote in spite of Hillary having the popular vote, people who supported Clinton began being labeled as “snowflakes.” A snowflake under the labeled definition meant anyone who couldn’t handle the truth of Trump’s victory and felt the need to cry or complain.
Twitter had become a battleground, and anyone with a public opinion became fodder for the opposition. Even celebrities had begun abandoning their Twitter accounts or even deleting them due to the backlash which Iggy Azalea has slammed for being a horrible reflection of the worst of humanity, and that was before the election began.
The problem even extended to Instagram, as Justin Bieber had taken down his account last August. He recently re-opened it to post his T-Mobile Super Bowl ad, but arguing on the internet remains unchanged.
Just recently, Twitter had green-lit a change which only made the problem worse. They’d stopped sending notifications to users when they were added to lists. This meant, as users Izzy Galvez and @SwiftOnSecurity stated, that victims were now being blinded to the problem. Angry people could easily add you to a list of “racists,” “homophobes,” “Nazis,” “sexists,” and the like, and you would suddenly be barraged by people you didn’t even know and not understand why.
User “SwiftOnSecurity” explained that a better move would be to enable removing yourself from lists you don’t like as you blocked the owners. Tech Crunch states that Twitter quickly realized their mistake with the lack of notifications about said lists, and quickly removed that abuse policy.
— SwiftOnSecurity (@SwiftOnSecurity) February 13, 2017
In the meantime, abuse rages on and many who simply tire of the negativity and insults either abandon their accounts or delete them.
What do you think? Should Twitter’s abuse policy be changed to allow victims to remove themselves from lists as they block the owners? Would it be enough to bring back the ones who left?
[Featured Image by Christian Bertrand/Shutterstock]