Twitter takes further steps in going after abuse

Steven Loeb · August 5, 2013 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/3123
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Twitter updates its Rules and begins working with the UK Safer Internet Centre to keep users safe

Twitter already responded to the calls from the British people to crack down on verbal abuse on the network by promising to add a feature that gives its users on the iPhone and mobile versions of Twitter the ability to file reports from an individual Tweet to both the Android and desktop versions, as well.

But now the company is going even further, taking additional steps to help those who find themselves on the receiving end of a Twitter rampage.

"It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter," Del Harvey, Senior Director of Trust and Safety, and Tony Wang, UK General Manager at Twitter, wrote in a blog post

"Over the past week, we've been listening to your feedback on how we can improve our service. You told us that we need to make our rules clearer, simplify our abuse reporting process, and promote the responsible use of Twitter."

In addition to the expanded availability of the reporting button, Twitter is also going to be working with the UK Safer Internet Centre "to expand our user resources on digital citizenship and staying safe online."

The UK Safer Internet Centre is coordinated by a partnership of three leading organisations; Childnet International, the South West Grid for Learning and the Internet Watch Foundation. Its mission is to "deliver a wide range of activity to promote the safe and responsible use of technology."

The Twitter platform will also be used to bring further attention to the UK Safer Internet Centre through  Promoted Tweets and a Promoted Trend.

Twitter also noted that is has updated its Rules "to clarify that we do not tolerate abusive behaviour."

This is the new language that has been added to the Rules:

  • Targeted Abuse: You may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be targeted abuse or harassment are:
    • if you are sending messages to a user from multiple accounts;
    • if the sole purpose of your account is to send abusive messages to others;
    • if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats

"We want people to feel safe on Twitter, and we want the Twitter Rules to send a clear message to anyone who thought that such behaviour was, or could ever be, acceptable," said Harvey and Wang.

The outage against Twitter started when Caroline Criado-Perez, a freelance journalist who is also the co-founder of thewomensroom.org.uk and the Week Woman blog, was barraged with a series of rape threats last week, following her successful campaign to get Jane Austen's face onto the 10 pound note.

In response, a petition was started to get Twitter to add a "report abuse" button to the site.

"It is time Twitter took a zero tolerance policy on abuse, and learns to tell the difference between abuse and defence. Women standing up to abuse should not fear having their accounts cancelled because Twitter fail to see the issue at hand," the petition wrote in an open letter directed at Twitter.

The report abuse button needs to be accompanied by Twitter reviewing the T&C on abusive behaviour to reflect an awareness of the complexity of violence against women, and the multiple oppressions women face."

The petition, which started on Saturday, now has a total of 127,979 signatures.

"We are committed to making Twitter a safe place for our users. We are adding additional staff to the teams that handle abuse reports and are exploring new ways of using technology to improve everyone’s experience on Twitter. We’re here, and we’re listening to you," said Harvey and Wang.

(Image source: https://www.centeronelderabuse.org)

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What is Twitter?

Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

Where did the idea for Twitter come from?

Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

How is Twitter built?

Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.

How do you make money from Twitter?

There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.

In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet. 

At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.

Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.

 

What's next for Twitter?

We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users. 

We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.