Top 14 Twitter Mistakes that Led to the Mess
Twitter, which was known at the time as Twittr, began as a simple tool for communicating among one's working team or set of friends. That went well until about 2011, when Twitter was deluged with new people who could not be trusted to be "social" on "social media." Twitter was then overtaken by bands of marauders who went about trying to chalk up personal scores by seeing how many people they could intimidate and harass. The infrastructure of Twitter, designed for polite groups of well-educated social peers, was not ready for this Carnival of Crazies. Many mistakes were made, some are being rectified, but this has been a very long, slow process. Twitter has possibly/ most likely/ been the source of more police complaints and more lawsuits than any other social media -- although Facebook is neck and neck in this race.
Top 14 Twitter Mistakes that Led to the Mess:
1. Twitter did not have in-line reporting. In the early days of Twitter, making a report was a laborious and very time-consuming process that involved jotting down the URL of the offensive tweet, going to s special reporting form, and inputting the information. More often than not, the page had glitches and did not work. Then, after the users went to all that trouble, Twitter did nothing to help.
2. Twitter showed abuse reports to the abusers. In the earlier days of Twitter, when reporting abuse, the person making the report had to sign a statement saying they were aware their report would be shown to the person they were reporting. This was based on an ill-informed notion of allowing a person to confront their accuser -- an idea that is part of the U.S. Constitution with regard to criminal trials, but that has absolutely nothing to do with social media accounts. Thus, when my life was threatened by someone in the Rustle League, I reported it to Twitter, the person was told, and they organized a massive attack against me by all their friends. When my life was threatened by two members of ISIS, I skipped reporting it to Twitter and sent links immediately to the FBI. Twitter allowed those death threat tweets to sit there for a long time and endanger my life, until the accounts were "suspended."
3. Twitter refused to simply delete Tweets. Instead, Twitter would wait until the offending account had engaged in years of targeted harassment and degradation, and then would "suspend" the account, by which Twitter meant "close." One of the people who harassed me incessantly, Jaime Cochran aka @asshurtmacfags, was the first person I ever heard of to have their account suspended by Twitter. This was after literally years of shocking, day in and day out, hate tweets aimed at me by Cochran, and with me not responding whatever. It would have been so much more productive if Twitter had simply deleted the abusive tweets as Cochran made them, instead of forcing me to endure years of defamation and harassment and Nazi-themed hate tweets. By allowing the abuse and not nipping it quickly, Twitter presented itself as a playground for Nazis and psychos. Cochran eventually came back on Twitter, and proceeded to harass and stalk others, which leads to yet another thing Twitter did not do until recently -- a hard ban of an abusive person from the service.
4. Twitter closes an account and calls it "suspended." This misuse of the word "suspend" gives the user a false hope that their account will be restored. It also makes Twitter novices not fear suspension, because it sounds temporary, like being suspended from high school.
5. Twitter intentionally allowed racist hate. Twitter allowed users to post swastikas, the ISIS flag, antisemitic depictions, obscene photos, including the famous "goatse" pictures, etc. Dick Costolo, who was Twitter CEO at the time, was so hell-bent on having a Nazi-friendly Twitter that he faced prison in France, rather than agree to turn over to the French government the account information of those posting antisemitic hate tweets.
6. Twitter allowed use of TwitLonger. This stupid app became the favorite of Twitter Crazies. It allowed them to extend their abusive rants from 140 characters into a whole paragraphs. To make matters worse, Twitter claimed it had no control over the content posted by crazies using TwitLonger.
7. Twitter claimed it had no control over pictures. In the early days of Twitter, pictures were hosted on an outside app, and Twitter claimed it had no control over the pictures. Therefore, the abusive users filled Twitter up with obscene photos, racist and misogynist memes, and lots of other bad stuff. Twitter now hosts its own pictures and makes it easy to report offensive pictures.
8. For a while, Twitter tried a system of "spam" reporting with automated account suspension. By that time, Twitter had been overtaken by marauding antisemitic and racist hate and misogynist hate groups, and they had figured out that if they all ganged up and reported as "spam" a tweet made by someone they were harassing, they could get that account suspended automatically and immediately. Twitter apparently devised this as a reporting tool, but should have realized how it would be used. Thank goodness that is now gone.
9. Twitter allowed antisocial gangs to form or operate on Twitter. Groups such as Rustle League, GNAA, ISIS, Bullyville, Encyclopedia Dramatica, Doxbin, SETG, Gamer Gate, and others used (and somewhat still do use) Twitter to gang together and harass others. The main difference is that now, their hate symbols are mostly banned, though from time to time, there will be an account with swastikas, links to Encyclopedia Dramatica, or other hate symbolism.
10. Twitter allows purchased followers. Twitter seemed to encourage purchased followers by requiring users to have more followers than people they follow. An easy way to make up that deficit is by buying followers. Buying followers was also a way for accounts to boost their numbers to appear popular. I mean, seriously, Katie Perry supposedly has the highest number of Twitter followers? Does anyone even care about Katie Perry or know even one song she sang? I know I don't. In addition, harassers soon figured out that they could buy thousands of followers and have them dumped onto the account of someone they wanted to bother. Purchased accounts are mostly fake profiles and usually contain bots. Bots and malware came onto Twitter, riding in the big dumps of fake followers. How did anyone think a big dump of fake followers would be released onto an account all at once, other than with malware guiding them?
11. Twitter allows clone accounts and mistakenly calls them "parody" accounts. Harassers make Twitter accounts that look identical to one's account, and Twitter refuses to delete the accounts. Twitter does not seem to know that "Parody" is an art form and also is legally defined and hard to accomplish. A harasser making accounts that look like someone else's account and using those to shitpost is not parody.
12. Twitter was slow to implement hard bans of abusive users. Some people simply cannot function in a social environment, and Twitter became home to many of them. These people would have account after account suspended -- and they would pop right back up with a new account. Twitter needed to implement hard bans much earlier on, and they seem to have accomplished this, more or less. Even if it meant getting court orders to keep these kinds of people off Twitter, it would be worth it. I can think of several highly abusive Twitter users who have had at least 10 or more of their accounts suspended. Those people are not mistakenly or accidentally tweeting something inappropriate; their intention is to be abusive and they work hard at it.
13. Twitter allows block lists. This is still ongoing. It is hard to say who is making these deceptive lists, but they are defamatory and are being used to block some activists from the very audience they would like to reach. For example, John Cusack, the actor and activist, installed a block list that he was led to believe was of trolls. Instead, the list contained almost all the major left wing activists who would most want to hear his message. Who created this list and who "sold" him on it? So many activists were so insulted, that he has lost much of his former fan base, all because he fell for a ruse. Since these lists are deceptive and defamatory, and seem to be run by people who are actually running a counter-agenda, they should not be allowed. Instead, Twitter should work to remove the troll bots.
14. Twitter provides no way to report troll bots. Have you ever noticed Twitter has no way to report a troll bot? I have spotted quite a few of them -- mobs of 10 more more accounts tweeting the exact same abusive things at the same time -- and yet, there is no way to report troll bots. Troll bots are a main form of attack that Twitter users have been complaining about for years, and yet there is no way to report one when we see it.