Another muddled, seriously misguided petition

Petitions seem to have become the de facto form of protest, somewhere between tutting and writing a strongly worded letter.

So often they are badly written, require previous knowledge of the situation, and don’t have a clear goal.

This morning, a hot topic of conversation has been how Twitter deals with reports of abuse, in relation to alleged rape threats made to @CCriadoPerez. Of course – a petition has started.

EDIT – the petition has been edited to add something about changing T&Cs. This is a step in the right direction, I still feel the petition is very poor. I also really dislike the fact you can edit petitions on – it seems dishonest to let 8k people sign something and then alter it. The screenshot still stands below.



I really don’t want to comment on the alleged threats themselves, but the response and what people expect of Twitter.

Why direct this at Mark S Luckie?

The first thing I find really odd is how Mark S Luckie has become part of this issue. He is the Manager of Journalism and News at Twitter. He isn’t involved with how abuse is reported or dealt with on Twitter. I’m not sure what people expected from him. It seems unfair to direct this campaign towards him.

After many tweets were directed at Mark, he changed his account to be protected, preventing most people from seeing his tweets.  I think it would be massively unprofessional for him to personally comment on the situation. At most he could direct people towards the proper channels for reporting abuse.

Oddly, some have interpreted Mark’s actions as “twitter says it’s not their problem”

I really don’t see how one employee protecting their account says this. The big issue here is how Twitter deals with abuse in general, not how one employee has handled one particular instance of abuse. Conflating the two seems petty.

Zero-tolerance? You are joking?

How can a multi-national micro-blogging platform with half a billion users and millions of tweets a day adopt a zero-tolerance policy on abuse?

Just think for a second about how this could possibly work.

Which country’s laws would Twitter uphold? What is perfectly fine in one country isn’t in another.

What happens if someone calls you a name you don’t like? Report it as abuse!

Someone was mean about a blog post you wrote? You can shut them down by reporting it as abuse.

Zero-tolerance means you would need to side with people who are easily offended and uphold laws in countries where free speech is oppressed. This isn’t what Twitter is about.

It’s just not possible or desirable to adopt a zero-tolerance stance on abuse. By aiming for a ridiculous goal you are never going to achieve it.

Totally missing the point

Twitter has procedures for reporting abuse already. I’ve used them and they worked for me.

I get the impression they don’t always work. It seems like the abuse team is often overworked. This is the real issue –  how Twitter actually deals with reports of abuse.

@CCriadoPerez seems to have managed to find out how to report abuse and she has also contacted the police. I would hope that both Twitter and the police handle the reports appropriately.

If @CCriadoPerez doesn’t get an appropriate response, then there is a problem. I don’t think enough time has passed to pass judgement on this.

I am not sure how adding an abuse button to tweets is going to solve any problem. If the abuse in a tweet is serious enough to warrant getting a member of Twitter staff to investigate, surely it is worth your effort to go the page where you need to report abuse? Inundating the abuse team with single-click abuse reports is not going to help in any way.

One thought on “Another muddled, seriously misguided petition

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    July 27, 2013 at 2:05pm

    One thing that never changes is that people love to jump on a cause. Signing a petition is a zero-effort way to feel like you’ve made a difference and is much easier than things like fact-checking and following the official channels. Unfortunately, in many cases, the argument just becomes about not admitting your side was wrong, and neither side really remembers what the original problem was or what followup action was taken by the actual people involved.

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