Twitter CEO Dick Costolo just admitted something many people have been saying for a long time: Twitter is awful when it comes to abuse and harassment. But Costolo, who admits that the awful behavior of trolls is driving users away, is taking personal responsibility and plans to change how Twitter deals with users whose sole purpose for being on the platform is to violate and abuse others.
The Verge obtained an internal memo that Costolo sent to employees after a piece by Lindy West, detailing the abuse she received on the platform, ran on This American Life. According to West, at least one user created a Twitter account impersonating West's deceased father. Employees wanted to know what could be done.
In response, Costolo sent the following memo.
We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years. It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing.
We're going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.
Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.
Costolo also added a follow-up:
Let me be very very clear about my response here. I take PERSONAL responsibility for our failure to deal with this as a company. I thought i did that in my note, so let me reiterate what I said, which is that I take personal responsibility for this. I specifically said "It's nobody's fault but mine"
We HAVE to be able to tell each other the truth, and the truth that everybody in the world knows is that we have not effectively dealt with this problem even remotely to the degree we should have by now, and that's on me and nobody else. So now we're going to fix it, and I'm going to take full responsibility for making sure that the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issue, that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability, and that we don't equivocate in our decisions and choices.
While Twitter has declined to respond to questions about the memo, The Verge notes that the company will be meeting regarding its fourth quarter earnings tomorrow. There will most certainly be a great deal to discuss regarding the company's growth, but based on these memos it's likely that one of the main topics of discussion will be how Twitter can better serve its community and protect its users (particularly women, prominent and otherwise) from the abuse and harassment that's been lobbed against them.
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