Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to Twitter today to promise a “more aggressive” stance in its rules and how it enforces them. The tweet storm was based in a response to the #WomenBoycottTwitter protest, as well as work that Dorsey says Twitter has been working ‘intensely’ on over the past few months. Dorsey says that critical decisions were made today in how to go about preventing the rampant and vicious harassment many women, minorities and other users undergo daily on the platform, per TechCrunch.
“We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them,” Dorsey says. “New rules around: unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence. These changes will start rolling out in the next few weeks. More to share next week.”
Those of us old enough to remember Twitter in the beginning will be able to tell you that abuse on the platform is far from a 2016 or 2017 problem. It’s been around for years since nearly the beginning driving away key members of the tech community like Kathy Sierra, who wrote a powerful essay when she left the platform that dissected troll culture and how Twitter enabled it.
In recent years women of colour have become increasingly high value targets for trolls on Twitter, with Leslie Jones leaving briefly after harassment and private images were hurled at her in a veritable digital stoning.
Twitter has talked tough on abuse before, many times, and its failures were well documented in this piece last year by Charlie Warzel and more recently by our own Natasha Lomas here. Hopefully Twitter uses a combination of the tools it already has in place to limit hate speech in countries which forbid it by law and new attitudes about what constitutes abuse to actually make some headway this time.