- Twitter, the social network with 328 million users worldwide, plans to put new anti-abuse rules into effect after some users last week organized a 24-hour boycott of the platform to protest the suspension of actor Rose McGowan’s account, The Verge reported. Twitter temporarily locked McGowan out of her account after she posted a private phone number in a tweet as part of her #RoseArmy campaign against movie producer Harvey Weinstein for sexually abusing women.
- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a series of tweets said the company sees “voices being silenced every day,” and its efforts to update its policies in the past two years have been inadequate. He pledged that Twitter will have “new rules around: unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies [sic] violence.”
- Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, is also a target of federal investigators digging into possible Russian interference with the U.S. presidential election last year. The probe has renewed debate about the prevalence of bots, or automated software programs, on Twitter, which has little incentive to remove them, Bloomberg News reported.
Twitter’s deficiencies as a social platform have been well documented in the past couple of years, and the company continues to struggle with regulating free speech while also granting users anonymity. The combination can create a toxic mix of internet trolling, hate speech, harassment and the posting of objectionable content.
Last week’s boycott of Twitter highlights how quickly viral misinformation can spread on a service that broadcasts posts at light speed. Twitter said McGowan’s account was suspended for violating a policy against publishing private phone numbers — a quaint notion considering how many supposedly private numbers can be looked up using Whitepages.com.
Unfortunately for Twitter, the block on McGowan’s account was interpreted as another sign of an overbearing corporate patriarchy that silences rape victims. The claim fit the narrative of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged history of sexually abusing women who were afraid to speak out against a wealthy media executive with menacing teams of publicists and lawyers to quell complaints.
Finally, Twitter is among the social media companies whose political advertising is likely to face greater regulation in the wake of investigations into their role of spreading fake news and propaganda in elections. The probes are likely to be embarrassing for Twitter, especially if they uncover greater evidence that many of its accounts are controlled by bot networks. The company is said to be protective of its user data, thwarting researchers who want to study bot networks and their role in posting politically motivated tweets, Bloomberg News reported.