For all of its benefits bringing the latest news and hilarious jokes to the masses in almost real time, Twitter has also been accused of acting too slowly to curb online harassment via their platform. Remember last year’s controversy when legions of Ghostbusters “fans” inundated actress Leslie Jones’ Twitter account with racist trolling and sexist comments? That was but one example of how the platform can run amok and lead to harassment.
According to Vice President of Engineering, Ed Ho, the social media site has taken notice and have plans to curb the online harassment. Ho first recognizes that Twitter has not been a terribly agile company when it came to dealing with these issues in the past tweeting, “We heard you, we didn’t move fast enough last year; now we’re thinking about progress in days and hours not weeks and months”.
His next statement continued the sentiment, “We’ll be rolling out a number of product changes in the days ahead. Some changes will be visible and some will be less so.” Mr. Ho’s Twitter timeline continues onward on the topic as follows.
Mr. Ho’s comments certainly constitute a tall order and could entail a Herculean task given the size of Twitter’s user base. According to Brandwatch, in 2016 there were 1.3 billion Twitter accounts and 310 million unique users each month. That would be almost one account almost every fifth person on the planet or almost one active monthly user for each American: man, women or child. It is also unknown what difficulty the company may encounter in trying to stem harassment resultant from their platform when the same source indicates that 79% of accounts are based outside the USA where the company is headquartered.
One thing that is known is that users may start noticing a friendlier Twitter environment in the near future as Mr. Ho indicates that changes will begin as of this week, starting with a “mute/block” the worst offenders.