By Dan Heilman / CIO Today. Updated February 09, 2016.
On Safer Internet Day, Twitter is trying to do its part by making its popular social media site less susceptible to harassment and abuse by forming the Twitter Trust & Safety Council. The 40-member council consists of organizations and experts who will help the company develop tools and policies to get rid of abuse, bullying and harassment on Twitter.
Among the entities belonging to the Twitter Trust & Safety Council are safety advocates, academics and researchers who study media and how to reduce hate speech on the Internet. Also involved are community groups who are out to quell harassment and bullying, as well as groups whose focus is on mental health and suicide prevention.
Among the members are the Anti-Defamation League, Childnet International, Thorn, Family Online Safety Institute, the Dangerous Speech Project, and the University of California-Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.
"With hundreds of millions of tweets sent per day, the volume of content on Twitter is massive, which makes it extraordinarily complex to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power," said Patricia Cartes, head of Twitter's Global Policy Outreach, on Twitter’s blog.
Cartes noted that the new council is a "foundational part of our strategy to ensure that people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter."
Twitter routinely removes tweets and entire accounts that it sees as hateful. But sometimes policing the site means walking a fine line. Twitter recently suspended more than 125,000 accounts that it suspected were linked to the terrorist group Islamic State, on the grounds that violent threats are not permitted on the service. Meanwhile, peaceful Muslims have complained that they’re often the targets of hate speech on Twitter.
The formation of the council is but one step that Twitter hopes will curb incidents of abuse and harassment. Late last year, Twitter announced an update to its rules that clarify what the social media company considers abusive behavior and hateful conduct. The updated rules underline Twitter’s zero-tolerance policy toward users who harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence other users' voices.
Increase in Staff
One way in which Twitter is fighting abuse is by automatically taking action against suspected abusive behavior, such as verifying users' e-mails and phone numbers, and deleting users' tweets for violations. These measures curb abusive behavior by helping the community understand what is acceptable on the platform, according to the company.
Also, last February, Twitter tripled the number of staff members handling abuse reports. And in March, the company introduced a new quality filter, making some abusive tweets invisible to users.
While none of those steps has fully solved Twitter's abuse problem, Twitter sees the formation of the Twitter Trust and Safety Council as a move in the right direction and a signal that it is listening to and getting input from the people and organizations that fight and prevent abuse on a daily basis.