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Stopping Trolls Is 'Now Life and Death For Twitter', Argues Backchannel ( 637

"This is the year that Twitter's future will be determined," argues Backchannel's editorial director, noting that Twitter's revenue growth is slowing, and "None of the features that cofounder Jack Dorsey has introduced since he returned to the company as CEO last year have succeeded in attracting new users." But Backchannel suggests it's because the trolls "are winning," discouraging new sign-ups and driving existing customers to leave. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we've sucked at it for years," Twitter's CEO wrote in an internal memo in 2015. Backchannel argues bluntly that Twitter "has a hate problem." New submitter mirandakatz writes: It's been exactly three years since Twitter first promised to solve its harassment problem. In those three years, the company has made countless such promises, introducing dozens of new "fixes" and even going so far as to ban notorious troll Milo Yiannopoulos last month. But still, abuse on Twitter continues, and stopping it is now critical to the platform's future success...
"Twitter did an excellent job of inventing a digital platform for realtime idea exchange, but it has yet to create the feature that allows the community itself to ferret out the abusers..." writes Backchannel. "And if it cannot figure out how to eradicate the harassers, Twitter's other challenges will remain intractable."
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Stopping Trolls Is 'Now Life and Death For Twitter', Argues Backchannel

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  • Oh no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07, 2016 @03:38PM (#52661245)

    Yet another "SJWs are the good guys, conservatives are the bad guys" story.

    • Backchannel is just trolling for clicks. Twitter sign up rates have slowed down for the same reason Facebook has - there's only a limited number of people interested in that shit on a day to day basis, and churn (people leaving because they have better things to do with their time) is now a problem. Besides, what the hell is Twitter good for anyway? Even Twitter doesn't know, or they would be doing it instead of copying other's ideas.
      • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday August 07, 2016 @06:02PM (#52661991) Journal

        Its also SJW shit, they banned Milo for saying Leslie Jones looked like one of his ex boyfriends while they ignored Leslie Jones saying things like "is that (famous black entertainer) sitting with a white woman? I'll fuck that bitch up" "sick of white people shit" along with stupid white bitch this and dumb white muthafucka that. She hasn't even bothered to delete all her racist shit because she knows its SJW heaven, you can go on her Twitter right now and look that shit up.

        They lost a LOT of users over the Milo mess because the one they took up for was not only so obviously horribly racist but even fucked up and accidentally sent a private tweet publicly showing she was trolling her own channel when she tweeted "I can stay on for awhile,loved the racist posts @PaulFieg" trying to drum up drama for her new ghostbusters shitshow. It would be one thing if they actually applied their policies fairly, but the Milo mess provided proof you can be as racist and scummy as you wanna be on long as you are the right skin color and the left side of the political aisle.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <> on Monday August 08, 2016 @02:46AM (#52663295) Homepage Journal

          No. Let's be absolutely clear since there seems to be a lot of confusion about this. Twitter banned him for harassment. Mere racism is not enough to get someone banned, as countless prior tweets by Milo himself prove.

          They banned him when he started faking screenshots of his victim's tweets in order to encourage his mob of followers to harass her. Twitter can obviously see how messages are re-tweeted and then followed up by abuse. It's that coordination that got him banned, not all the many many offensive things he has said over the years. Twitter gives people like him a huge amount of leeway.

      • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @06:51PM (#52662167)

        Twitter sign up rates have slowed down for the same reason Facebook has - there's only a limited number of people interested in that shit on a day to day basis

        Yep, once you've signed up virtually everyone on the planet who wants to play the Twitter game, that's when the growth suddenly stops (oh noes!), and membership and participation inevitably start to decline. (And Twitter is a game, just not one in the conventional sense.)

        Twitter: The Confetti of The Internet

    • Re:Oh no (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 07, 2016 @04:36PM (#52661547)

      Thanks for using the "SJW" moniker. People know and understand what SJWs are and they know and understand why they don't want every discussion to devolve into a social justice war around which topics should get censored.

      (This message was posted to preempt the latest SJW tactic of "concern trolling" about the use of the term "SJW". They don't want themselves described that way because it highlights their bad behavior. You are supposed to be on the defensive, not them.)

    • Re:Oh no (Score:4, Insightful)

      by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @05:21PM (#52661805)
      Nope. It's a story about the conflicting freedoms of speech and privacy. If I want to be left alone on my property, I can setup "no trespassing" borders, and allow in only what I want. That's the level of control people are used to. The "social media" is inclusive. If you join, you lose filters. There is no mechanism in YouTube to block a specific channel or person from showing up on your "recommended" list. In Facebook, it used to be that to block someone, you had to friend them first, then block them, or "trick" them into posting something that showed up on your own wall. If it was shared by a friend, it was un-blockable and un-filterable. It's still almost impossible to filter what's shared by friends. The only way to avoid the political posts by the one crazy aunt you don't want to cut off completely, is to cut her off completely, and try to remember to unblock her when the election cycle is over.

      There is no mechanism in *any* of the social media to link to a person, but filter their content. And that's the problem nobody has solved.

      Your right to speak doesn't mean You have the right to force me to listen. Sometimes people want social media to follow the activities of friends and family, and not get bombarded with everything any of them have ever liked. Social media is going to die if nobody can solve the signal to noise problem.
    • When someone broadcasts their personal opinions and lives to the world on Twitter, they can expect differing opinions and criticism if done in a self righteous fashion.

      Twitter is sort of like the old Usenet for commoners.

      That is shat happens when the internet goes mainstream and low tech.

  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @03:38PM (#52661247)

    those "trolls" disagree with Jack.

    If a troll or harasser happens to have the same political views as Jack, he doesn't care.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @04:15PM (#52661403)

      Haven't you heard? It's impossible for an SJW to be a troll or harasser, since "troll" and "harasser" implies a power relationship, it's impossible for an SJW to be one (since they don't have any power on the social media platforms they now completely control). So the powerless SJW's who now have all the power on all social media CAN'T harass or troll. Only the powerful conservatives and liberal dissenters who have no power on any social media platforms have the power on social media to be trolls/racists/sexists/abusers.

      Also, it's very important that we protect LGBT rights and the rights of Muslims who support killing LGBT's.

    • by Revek ( 133289 )

      Well of course not. Its not trolling if its 'true'.

  • Can't say I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Derekloffin ( 741455 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @03:43PM (#52661259)
    While trolls suck, they always had them. What they haven't had is inconsistent and overreaching policies for fighting these 'trolls'. We've seen in again and again, certain groups get free passes to say whatever they want, other groups say stuff even slightly, through a distorted lens, might look kinda trollish, banned. Get your current policies straight and consistent!
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @04:52PM (#52661673) Journal

      There's never been a good way to deal with actively disruptive individuals (whether you call them trolls, flamebaiters, or whatever). I remember back in the old Usenet days a few of the more "serious" newsgroups either becoming moderated or creating moderated subgroups simply to try to deal with spammers and trolls. Not a job I would have wanted.

      The problem is bigger now because the Internet is bigger now, and it's every bit as hard to find a good solution to.

      My attitude is that Twitter can do what it likes. It doesn't owe the likes of Milo Yiannopoulos a platform. Of course it risks going the way that so many moderated newsgroup did a quarter century ago, abandoned by users who couldn't stand the restrictive policies and uneven enforcement.

      • The real answer (Score:4, Insightful)

        by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @06:05PM (#52661995)

        Give people the ability to filter. One of the main purposes of Free Speech is to promote thought. Listening to other opinions is how we hone and change our own. Forcing everyone to live in a bubble results in what we have now in the College Snowflake (AKA SJW) class of people. Not only does this class of people live in an echo chamber, but they lash out at anyone telling them something not in their chamber. Ben Shapiro being banned from speaking at a campus instead of banning the people who don't want to hear him is insanity, not College.

        Any time I hear speech I dislike I can walk away. Don't blame trolls for sites that make you see them, Slashdot for example allows browsing while ignoring them for the most part.

        As for Twitter, they should have died long ago. Any company that bans and censors things they dislike while allowing death threats to the same people they claim are bad shows the hypocrisy their leadership. As an easy example, Milo receives death threats from all kinds of people who don't get banned from Twitter, yet he gets banned for mostly being obnoxious while defending his review of a movie. That was the last, not only, time he was punished by Twitter for having an opinion they didn't like. (Don't listen to the fabricated narrative, do the research and read his posts.)

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <> on Sunday August 07, 2016 @03:45PM (#52661283) Homepage

    You basically have two types of trolls these days, there is the spammers and people spewing all sorts of predictable BS (like here on Slashdot you have the GNAA and Goatse). They are easy to block with Bayesian filtering or even plain blacklists. Then there are the more modern 3rd wave feminist trolls, they behave like they have a valid point and may even get a following of people agreeing with them, yet they make a community toxic by designating pretty much all dissent as "personal attacks". I've seen it happen recently in an otherwise healthy 20yo community, in less than 3 years it was destroyed by leadership trying to make the organization a "safe place" and more than half the membership left mostly voluntarily after key members were forced out.

    I think Twitter has more of the second problem: trying to make a platform available that is "safe" for everyone meaning it will only ever be good for a single person because any dissent will be viewed as unacceptable speech.

  • Twitter sucks anyway. It's a bad service run by haters and censors.

    • Twitter should die. It is just a source for rumors and unsubstantiated drivel. It no longer has any redeeming value.

      When people played by the rules, it sort of worked. No longer. The dark side of humanity has found an outlet for their hate, and loves it.

      Spew hatred and untruth to hundreds of thousand, and millions, of people, with just a #hashtag and a click.

      Twitter is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump. He could not have done what he did without Twitter.

      Twitter is responsible for the rise of DAESH/IS

  • They might want to consider giving the extra filtering functionality given to Verified Account users to everyone else so such chaff can be more widely filtered out.

  • The only problem with Twitter is that it has too many users. Do your part to help.
  • by RichPowers ( 998637 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @04:52PM (#52661675)

    Can someone explain to this ol' fogey why anyone wants to own Twitter at $18/share?

    A cursory look at the company's recent financials shows it's still losing money. The number of shares outstanding is also increasing, so even if the company manages to generate (real) free cash at some point, you're entitled to a smaller share of it. The entire thing is bizarre -- it's not like Twitter's in a capital-intensive business like aluminum or shipbuilding.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Twitter is sold in the not-too-distant future. I suspect a grown-up management team could probably make Twitter profitably generate cash.

  • I find myself rooting for the trolls. #yeatrolls
  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) on Sunday August 07, 2016 @05:20PM (#52661803) Homepage

    "Twitter did an excellent job of inventing a digital platform for realtime idea exchange, but it has yet to create the feature that allows the community itself to ferret out the abusers..." writes Backchannel. "And if it cannot figure out how to eradicate the harassers, Twitter's other challenges will remain intractable."

    In other words, Backchannel wants a SOCJUS-friendly echochamber.

  • If Twitter is bringing the ban hammer down on people because someone's feelings got hurt, then it's game over. Bye bye Twitter

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson