How to end online harassment
Social networks must once again become “walled gardens”.
The conventional wisdom is that when it comes to social platforms, openness is good and closure is bad.
Facebook has been criticized as a walled garden. But after Google+ came out in 2011 as a social site with public posts that you could link to and find from a regular search, Facebook followed suit, and Facebook-as-a-walled-garden didn’t exist. more. Now, Facebook is mostly open (albeit with a flawed real name policy and proprietary formats like Facebook Instant Articles).
The reason we have to put the wall back around our social gardens is as simple as it is obvious: bullying is ruining the internet.
How Periscope Torpedoes Abuse
Twitter has a harassment issue. And the same goes Periscope, the live streaming site owned by Twitter.
Most abuse on Periscope comes in the form of comments. A typical scenario is where a woman or girl is broadcasting live – say, expressing a political opinion about the upcoming US presidential election – and abusive commentators make requests as if they were on an adult chat site. The other categories of abuse are the usual suspects: racism, shame, mockery, threats, etc.
Last week, Periscope enabled an innovative anti-harassment process called “flash juries. “
During a live broadcast, anyone can report a comment as abusive. An abuse report triggers a process by which a few random viewers of the stream are selected to be part of a “jury” that votes on the report. If a majority says it’s abusive, the person who posted that comment is barred from commenting for one minute. If the same user makes another comment deemed abusive by another flash jury, that user can no longer comment during that feed.
Good, but not perfect. Periscope’s streaming audience can be very small, so a group of trolls can easily overwhelm the comments and dominate the vote, voting ‘no’ when asked if their own comments are abusive and maybe even by reporting and voting on non-abusive comments from regular viewers.
What’s most interesting about flash juries is that this is the first time Twitter has allowed users to take direct action against abuse.
Why Twitter can’t control the harassment
Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admitted that “we suck when it comes to abuse and trolls.” And it is still true.
Twitter is one of the smaller social networks.
Twitter has only 140 million daily users (and Facebook over a billion). This ranks Twitter now behind even Snapchat and behind four Facebook social properties (Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram).
Twitter is tiny, but it’s the biggest harassment issue.
In fact, Twitter is a dream site for misogynists who want to silence women. In recent months, rich, famous and otherwise powerful women have been silenced by such intolerable harassment that they are being kicked out of the social network. These included Girls Creator Lena dunham, British MPs Jess phillips and Nadine Dorries, Great British Bake Off presenter Sue Perkins, the singer Halsey and others.
A writer compares Twitter to a park full of perverts and bats.
A recent study found that misogyny was rampant on Twitter, with a surprising 50% of those misogynistic tweets posted by other women.
The low number of Twitter users hides its cultural influence. It is clearly the favorite social network of journalists, celebrities, politicians and other influencers.
Still, no one seems to understand why Twitter harassment is so intractable, so I’ll try to explain it very clearly.
Twitter has a unique feature that makes it friendly to trolls, haters, misogynists, and abusers – you can’t delete other people’s comments.
On Facebook and Google+, for example, you create space for a conversation in the form of a post. People are commenting. If someone is harassing you in the comment, you delete that comment and prevent the user from participating in any future comments in any of your posts.
Twitter is the only major social network that does not allow you to delete comments from other users.
Instead, you should use Twitter’s reporting tools to ask Twitter to remove comments or accounts. Twitter decides.
In some cases, Twitter deletes a comment or profile based on a report. But in many other cases, including death threats, sexual harassment, and identity theft, Twitter isn’t.
Trolls evolve their behavior to learn how to make specific threats without violating Twitter terms. Instead of saying to a woman, “I am going to kill you,” an attacker might say “You must be killed,” which is equally threatening to the victim, but which Twitter may not view as a violation of their terms. use.
On all other major social networks, the acceptability of a given comment is determined by the user who posted the item that gave rise to the comment. So if I think someone abused me in a comment on one of my Facebook posts, I delete that comment.
Also: blocking doesn’t do much on Twitter. This prevents you and the stalker from following you, and it prevents the other user from directly mentioning you. But that’s all. This user may continue to harass you, but you will not see them. And it is possible for the user to continue to “follow” you by logging out of Twitter.
When you block on Facebook or Google+, the troll leaves the room.
When you block on Twitter, YOU leave the room.
There’s just one problem: As with Twitter, when a blocked user logs out of Facebook or Google+, that user can still see your public posts.
How to end the problem of online harassment
Harassment is a big problem.
In a 2014 internet user survey According to the Pew Research Center, 8% of respondents said they had been physically threatened, 8% said they had been harassed, 7% said they had been “harassed for an extended period” and 6% said they had been sexually harassed. Overall, some 40% of American internet users said they had been harassed online.
These are significant numbers. This means that in the United States, more than 22 million people have been physically threatened online (based on an estimate of the total number of users).
Everyone seems to have a different solution to the problem of online harassment.
The European Union sees the solution in a line “code of conduct“to guide what Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft should do to tackle racism and xenophobia online in Europe. The” code “is weak and not legally binding, and it essentially asks companies to respond to most of the reports of harassment from European law enforcement agencies.
Defense groups in France threaten a lawsuit against Twitter, Facebook and Google on the refusal of these companies to remove the publications which, according to the lawyers, violate the French law against hate speech.
Cyberbullying Research Center publishes a list of places for people to report harassment.
Lady Gaga even launched a #HackHarassment campaign aimed at exerting public pressure on tech companies to better fight harassment. This approach probably makes sense, given the Observation of the Association for Progressive Communications that Silicon Valley companies have “a reluctance to engage directly in technology-related violence against women until it becomes a public relations problem.”
All of these so-called “solutions” share the same fatal flaw: They depend on social media companies to identify, judge, track down, and process every social media post deemed to be harassment.
One problem is that people do not agree on what constitutes harassment. Another is that there are too many posts to sort through (Facebook alone should process billions of messages every day), and the intricacies of language and human relationships are well beyond what algorithms can handle.
We cannot wait for every internet user to become virtuous.
We look forward to Internet companies becoming omniscient and omnipotent.
The solution has already been revealed by the voluntary actions of millions of Internet users. The biggest trend in social media is the rise of messaging apps instead of social media. What is all this about?
A messaging app can be thought of as a private social network. You are not socially networked with the world (the trolls and all). You network socially exclusively with guests who are logged in to the service.
In other words, courier services are walled gardens. That’s why people love them.
Social sites, including and in particular Twitter, should incorporate tools that allow you to post semi-publicly, ban stalkers, and rule your own private social network like an autocrat by giving you the power to delete comments. from other users for whatever reason. choose, and to really prevent other users from participating in the chat rooms you create.
We need nothing less than a complete rethink of what a social network is. Instead of thinking that social media posts are available to absolutely everyone with an internet connection, we need to be able to post publicly for everyone – minus the people we’ve uninvited and less the people who aren’t. connected to the service.
This model looks less like Twitter and more like Snapchat, less like Facebook and more like Whatsapp. This model is an enclosed garden.
Social sites like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter have cool features that messaging apps don’t. We don’t all want to join the exodus to the messaging world.
When the conventional wisdom of walled garden social media was formed, the social internet was a very different place. Social sites were more exclusive. The conversation was more civil. But the growing problem of harassment has become so serious that it ruins the experience of using a social network.
Time to bring back the walled garden.
Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.