Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has basically said that Twitter has been slow to react to online trolls, and takes personal responsibility for it.
According to two memos written by Costolo (via The Verge), the CEO feels “ashamed” about the way that trolls and harassers on Twitter have been dealt with during his time as CEO. These memos were written in response to an employee’s question in an internal forum on whether the social network is doing everything it can to prevent trolling and abuse. This question arose due to the story of Lindy West, a frequent victim of online harassment, as her tormentors created a fake Twitter account for her deceased father and made cruel comments about her at the service.
In the first memo, which reportedly came after an employee questioned on an internal forum whether the social network is doing all it can to prevent trolling and abuse, Dick Costolo replied saying that he was “ashamed of how poorly (Twitter) dealt with this issue”, and took full responsibility, saying that “it’s nobody else’s fault but mine”.
We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.
We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.
Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.
He later sent a second memo, reiterating that he blamed no one but himself for the issue.
Let me be very very clear about my response here. I take PERSONAL responsibility for our failure to deal with this as a company. I thought i did that in my note, so let me reiterate what I said, which is that I take personal responsibility for this. I specifically said “It’s nobody’s fault but mine”
We HAVE to be able to tell each other the truth, and the truth that everybody in the world knows is that we have not effectively dealt with this problem even remotely to the degree we should have by now, and that’s on me and nobody else. So now we’re going to fix it, and I’m going to take full responsibility for making sure that the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issue, that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability, and that we don’t equivocate in our decisions and choices.
Harassment in Twitter has been in the limelight for some time now, as bullies and harassers use the social media tool to target victims with floods of insensitive comments and death threats, all in little 140 characters messages. Twitter has also been criticised of being slow in reacting to harassment, to the frustration of many campaigning for a friendlier Twitterverse.
Will this bring about change? Who knows. Perhaps this is the statement needed to spark a change in the twitterverse and in Twitter itself. With the amount of revenue Twitter brings in, it doesn’t make sense that something as basic as safety be lacking in the Twitterverse.