Facing a mounting backlash that its social media platform is a forum for unchecked bigotry, Twitter just announced a new committee to handle “trolling” and abuse – and hopefully stem the decline of the 10-year-old company, whose stock has plunged 30 percent since October 2015.
The new committee, named the Twitter Trust & Safety Council, intends to “strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power,” and enable Twitter’s 320 million users to “express themselves with confidence on Twitter,” wrote Patricia Cartes, Head of Global Policy Outreach, in a blog post today. The newly formed council includes representatives from a number of groups whose causes range from civil rights to anti-defamation and cyber safety.
Twitter has proven itself to be a remarkable outlet for global solidarity, launching the #JeSuisParis hashtag after the November attacks in Paris last year — but the free, international, all-access platform has also been an attractive recruiting tool for terrorists, which promped Twitter to suspend 125,000 terrorist-related accounts last year.
The new Twitter task force comes on the heels of safety policies implemented last year and the creation of the Twitter Safety Center that also aimed to address the extensive trolling that led many users – especially female celebrities whose accounts helped propel Twitter’s growth — to abandon the platform. The safety center’s actions included freezing trolls’ accounts and requiring a phone number before they could be reinstated.
The microblogging site’s new policies acknowledge former CEO Dick Costolo’smea culpa where he said, “We suck at handling trolls and abuse,” and his promises to fix the problem.