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Posts Tagged ‘twitter abuse’

Twitter Report Abuse Controversy Changes UK’s Perception Of Brand To Negative [STUDY]

In just a few years Twitter has established itself as an increasingly important medium for breaking news, but what happens when Twitter itself is the subject of that news, and the story is almost wholly negative?

Last week, users responded with anger on reports that female campaigners and MPs had been subject to abuse and rape threats on Twitter, particularly when Twitter, Inc, was initially slow to respond and then failed to provide any practical solution. YouGov tracked the UK public’s reaction to this news between July 28th and August 5th and discovered that attention given to Twitter, which is defined as those hearing anything good or bad about a brand, doubled in this period (from 12 percent to 24 percent of the UK public).

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Petition Calling On Twitter To Add “Report Abuse” Button Has 60K Signatures, And Counting

After feminist campaigner Caroline Criado Perez was subjected to a sustained barrage of threatening tweets over the past three days, Twitter is facing calls to take faster, and stronger, action against online abuse.

Here are the details of what’s been happening.

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Student Jailed For 56 Days Over Racist Fabrice Muamba Tweets

Student Liam Stacey has been sentenced to 56 days in prison for posting offensive comments to Twitter after the on-pitch collapse of Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba.

21-year old Stacey, a second-year biology student at Swansea University, was arrested after his taunting tweets were reported to police, admitting incitement to racial hatred.

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Are You Being Bullied On Twitter?

Cyber-bullying takes many forms. describes it as:

When a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones.

A study by the National Crime Prevention Council suggested that cyber-bullying affects almost half of all American teenagers. But it’s not just children who are at risk. Because it’s so easy to register an account on Twitter (and to do so anonymously), it’s also very easy to use that account for malice.

This would include attempting to hurt or embarrass another individual by:

  • Sending provocative images
  • Making overtly sexual remarks
  • The use of hate speech or racism
  • Making threats
  • Disclosing personal information
  • Defamation
  • Faking or sharing images without consent
  • Tweet-bombardment

Computer harassment is a crime in several US states, and cyber-stalking is classified as a criminal offense in the United Kingdom, and increasingly being perceived as such around the world.

Unfortunately, Twitter’s abuse policy is pretty lacking. Their TOS do not directly address abuse, but the official Twitter rules have a specific section for harassment and violent threats. What the organisation needs is a designated @abuse account, and ideally a checks and balances system for registration.

If you feel you are being bullied or victimised by another individual on Twitter, there are some steps you can take.

  1. Block the account. This won’t prevent them from maintaining their behavioural pattern, but at least you won’t have to see it.
  2. Report the user to Twitter via a help ticket. Be thorough, and include examples linking back to specific tweets where possible.
  3. Consider sending a tweet to @delibus and @safety reporting the user
  4. Make a backup of all abusive tweets using your favourite image software (i.e., Photoshop) as things can be easily removed by the other user. Your backup won’t be proof alone, but Twitter should be able to match-up your records with their own, even if the tweets have been deleted.
  5. Highlight the abuse to somebody else that you trust. This person can later function as a witness.

While not reporting abuse in the hope that it will eventually ‘go away’ is not the best course of action, completely ignoring the abuser is an excellent choice. By not feeding the trolls, you can prevent an attacker from getting the things they typically desire, such as validation, a larger audience and even confirmation of the things they are saying. It also helps to reduce the chances of anything becoming public, primarily because it doesn’t become part of your own Twitter timeline.

That said, there can also be some merit in exposing the person publically on Twitter. This is not always ideal, certainly when your personal information has been exposed, but in some instances it can lead to an immediate end to the abuse, as well as providing a warning to others within your network.

Of course, even if the abuse stops, either because the other user gives up or Twitter suspends their account, this doesn’t prevent them immediately opening up another profile and starting over. If this happens, and until Twitter radically improves their blocking and safety measures, your only option may be to consider protecting your status updates. While this puts the social part of social media somewhat in jeopardy, this is a realistic solution if you wish to maintain a strong level of privacy on Twitter.

"I Find This Offensive."

Hang around on the internet long enough, and you’re sure to offend somebody.

All it takes is sharing an opinion or making any kind of statement that a second party perceives to be blanket or in any way generalised, and they will take offense. It might be because you’ve made a joke or a silly remark. Maybe you behaved just a fraction out of character. The reason why doesn’t matter. You could write a thousand pure gold tweets in a row, but if tweet one-thousand-and-one is a tiny bit off, that guy is out there waiting to tell you that you screwed up.

You can basically guarantee that even if what you’ve said is completely innocent, insightful or funny to 99.99% of people, somebody will object.

In fact, the more normal your statement is, the more likely you’ll find yourself fending off some crazy who breaks Godwin’s Law before he’s halfway through his second response.

Most of the time, these people don’t know you. They’re making a judgement call on that item alone – they just happened to notice then. We all have people who follow us on Twitter who clearly never pay even the slightest bit of attention to the things we tweet about. Or believe in. Or how we really feel about the subject at hand.

It’s ironic that it’s often these same people who are the first to jump down our throats when we say something to which they take immediate offense. There’s no attempt to evaluate where this statement fits within our history. It’s simply: I am offended. What are you going to do about it?

Worst still are the people who silently unfollow you. Yeah, that told me. If I’ve offended you, I’d much rather you let me know. Otherwise, not only am I incapable of being able to do anything about it, but I’m likely to remain completely oblivious, too. I’d rather have the opportunity to explain my position, especially if there’s a chance it’s a misunderstanding or if I unknowingly (and genuinely) put my foot in it.

Here’s the thing: sometimes you will say and do stupid things. Very occasionally, you may well cause offense to a lot of people. And most of the time, you know when you’ve done this. You know when you’ve said something really awful, even if it’s by mistake. This recognition is important, and because of it you can initiate the steps to repair the damage.

Otherwise, a lot of the time when one person tells you that you have offended them – especially if that person is a total stranger – you probably haven’t done anything wrong. At worst, you’ve made a really, really minor error. Somewhere between a faux pas and a goof.

And again, just as you know when you’ve done something stupid, you know when you haven’t. Don’t be a jerk about it, but if you’re in the right, and you know you’re in the right, let the offendee have their rant and then move on. Let’s call it offensive defense.

After all, as they say: if you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

PS. The flip side of this is worth a note, too. If you have taken offense to the contents of a tweet, take a moment to read through the person’s recent timeline to make sure things are how they seem. Consider also your history and relationship with that person. Where does this tweet fit? Is there a chance it’s a joke? Or a misunderstanding? We can’t possibly all agree on everything, but a little social compromise and benefit of the doubt goes a long way.