Twitter is in trouble again, with another major round of layoffs after a number of potential buyers backed away.
There’s a lot of evidence of simple bad management, too many people with jobs that added too little value. But it’s also being said that Twitter’s ongoing failure to tackle trolls, bullying and harassment on their network was a significant negative factor for some would-be buyers.
It’s been an ongoing problem for a long time, and Twitter’s response has always been a case of too little too late. Banning a handful of medium profile right-wing figures “pour encourager les autres” is not a practical solution, and probably only serves to make matters worse.
What Twitter really needs is a clear and unambiguous Terms of Service, which is then enforced consistently and transparently. Such a thing would force everyone from GamerGaters to social justice witch-hunters to play by the same rules, which would surely be a good thing.
Cynically there’s the suspicion that Jack Dorsey is too close to some social justice witch hunters to be willing to implement anything that might cramp their style. So the harassment is allowed to continue, and their current TOS continues to be enforced in a selective and partisan way that benefits no-one. Much of the worst behaviour goes unpunished unless their target is a prominent member of a group Twitter’s management wants to curry favour with.
Have the technical solutions that have been proposed, many of them quite straightforward to implement, been squelched for the same reason? Or can we simply blame cluelessness?
Twitter at its best is a great conversation space and a great way of making new social and professional connections. But its weakness has always the way trolls can disrupt meaningful conversation. Twitter have been dragging their heels on this for far too long.