November 12, 2017

How to fix Twitter's abuse problem

BY Johnny



My favorite social media platform, Twitter, is struggling with a pretty extensive abuse problem for a long time. I've experienced this myself, and many of my friends are either not using it anymore, or switching over to other social media platforms because they have given up hope that Twitter will get this under control in the near future.

I've heard many times that users think Twitter is fostering abuse, not free speech, and that the platform doesn't care because conflict drives engagement and engagement drives ad sales (in case you wondered why every single photography forum on the face of the earth doesn't deal with conflict better, this is why). I don't think that's the intention, but I do think Twitter is struggling to find ways to conquer abuse without impacting engagement.

The main issue is that core users (the people who create content and don't just consume, high profile accounts like celebrities that bring a lot of traffic to the platform) would appreciate more control over their own content and timeline. If someone leaves an abusive comment on Instagram, you can block the person, delete their comment and you'll never hear from them again.

On Twitter you can't keep people out of a discussion right now or delete their replies to discussions you started. Even if you block someone, they can still jump into the conversation by replying to a joint contact.

If Twitter would give users the option to limit interactions with their own content, this would fix everything. I'm sure many people would immediately switch their account to "only my followers". The discussion would still be public, it would still allow for critical thoughts and a productive exchange among your following, but you wouldn't have to rely on reporting people to Twitter if someone can't behave.

Right now you're forced to either live with abuse, hope for Twitter to moderate it (the chances are comparable to winning the lottery) or delete your account and move on, which gives the abusers power.

What I'm suggesting would also completely take the responsibility to police the platform away from Twitter - which is much more in line with their free speech policy (one of the things that makes Twitter so great). Plus it would require zero additional manpower from their abuse team, because everyone can decide for themselves how open they would like to be.

So please, Twitter. Give us control over our own user experience. We should be able to decide who we want to interact with and what our timeline looks like.