A promising sign, but is it enough?
In late January, Twitter VP of Engineering Ed Ho put out a number of posts addressing the blue bird’s renewed focus on user safety. Though we typically take these types of announcements with a rather large grain of salt, less than one month later Twitter has already put some walk behind its talk.
The first step was creating a Trust and Safety Council consisting of over 40 good Samaritan organizations. This council’s stated goal is to “ensure Twitter is a platform where anyone, anywhere can express themselves safely and confidently.” The council’s task is to provide outside input on safety products, policies, and programs. This is the type of program we firmly believe every social media and review platform should have in place, and likely will eventually either of their own doing or when forced by legislation.
Not stopping there, Twitter also launched a program that puts users whose accounts have been identified as abusive on a little “time out” in mid-February. The bullies aren’t banned from posting, but their posts are limited to being seen by their followers only.
These are excellent first steps, but they aren’t enough.
In my work I speak to a huge number of business owners who have become victims of cyberbullying, many through no wrongdoing of their own. While I will forever support the right to share bad experiences with others, both social media and review sites are being used as bludgeoning tools on the reputations of upstanding people in shocking numbers. We need stronger tools for reporting, stronger tools for removal, and a panic button for any profile or page to let site admins know an attack is occurring. Until those are in place social media will remain the cyberbully’s tool of choice.