Twitter's got a new troll stick


#1

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#2

It’s terrible to see how some people are clammoring for Twitter to implement features Facebook has been ridiculed for in the name of protecting the 0.01% of high profile twitterati.

Yet here we are ready to hand Twitter the power to algorithmically, and undetected, remove tweets from users’ timelines. A “feature” Facebook was lambasted for back in the day. A message platform whose message delivery is non guaranteed, based on arcane rules defined by a corporation. What could possibly go wrong ? After all it’s not like BlockTogether blocked a lot of people unintentionally for following the “wrong” accounts (oops.) Well I’m sure Twitter will do better, and if they don’t at least you’ll never know thanks to the “invisibility ray.”

Then there’s the scary language provision to deter “threats.” Oh how we scoffed when police went after a man who “threatened” to blow up an airport on Twitter. Well, expect to see that times a thousand when tweets get combed through by an algorithm and thousands of humourless Tumblr airmchair revolutionaries. Byebye sarcasm and hello political correctness.

And of course anonimity, such as it is, has to go too. Sorry folks, we’ve determined people need the hot breath of the censor in their neck to provide an incentive to behave properly. Hang up your posters behind the PC please: “You too can be identified !” Ah, that ought to hold the little SOB’s.


#3

…

Troll stick?


#4

I do see what you mean, especially when anonymity is pretty much a coward way of engaging other people online; especially when one wish to be free from consequence and accountability. But does that mean that we should use our real name on all online forums and message boards so that we could be wary of our own action, at the cost of our own privacy? I mean, we got plenty of “Anonymous” here, especially when it comes to screen names.


#5

The issue is though, twitter really has to do SOMETHING. It’s become practically unusable without blocking software - and no, it’s not just for some “twiterati”, I barely use twitter at all and I’ve been subject to a torrent of abuse, insults, bigotry, and racism, because of organized harassment campaigns.

Block Together, as far as I’m aware, can’t really block people “accidentally”, nor does it block people who follow other people from what I can tell. Perhaps you mean some other blocking method? The only one I know of that blocks people for following others is mentioned in the article, and I’m not sure how it can block people “accidentally” when you sign up for it.

But yes, the problem is the “tumblr armchair revolutionaries”, and not the neo-nazis who constantly scream at black people to kill themselves, the organized harassment campaigns who TAKE PRIDE in how many tweets they can slam people with, or the people who have actually started betting pools on twitter on who they can push to commit suicide first.

This shit needs to be stopped, because it’s causing actual lasting damage to people. If anything, this is little more than a good start, considered twitter has openly allowed people who share revenge porn on their website - as far as I know they still haven’t done anything about that.


#6

I think heavily moderated, and even real-identity based, forums have their place. The Boingboing BBS is a good example. I would argue that Twitter isn’t. Of course I view it as an open conversation with the world rather than as a push platform (which is closer to the original description of a “micro-blogging” site). The latter I guess is a more natural view for Twitter users with a high follower count.
Demanding all users have a sword of Damocles above their heads because of the (very real and awful) abuse of some is like demanding all mail be sent as certified mail because some idiots send anthrax letters. We would not stand for it in the real world, I don’t see why we should in online communities.


#7

Well, Twitter is making a business decision. The trolls and spammers are starting to drive off the other users, and Twitter has presumably crunched the numbers and decided which subset of users they want to keep.

But this is opening a niche for other companies: Somebody could come up with a Twitter-like site that encouraged anonymous threats and puerile trolling. The people who like to engage in that sort of behavior could go there and troll each other and leave the rest of us alone. (Obviously there still needs to be some moderation in place, to keep them from organizing harassment of non-members.)


#8

There’s no such thing as that category. People with 50 followers and 5,000,000 may be equally affected, and have been.

…of people who we are not following and, judging by other tweets we and others have blocked, we don’t want to hear from.

There I agree with you (and note at the end of the article). We’re all dancing with the devil here.

This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Block Together’s function (as it’s not responsible for GG Auto Blocker) and GG Auto Blocker, which does exactly what it says, as noted in the article. GG Auto Block and Block Together don’t affect people who haven’t opted in to use them.

You’re conflating different kinds of threats. Threats of violence, especially against individuals, are typically not allowed in public or online. It’s a question of enforcement rather than being permitted. Offensive speech should be encouraged, including insulting the beliefs of entire classes of people. This is where we coincide: “PC” behavior to me is applying rules about actual abuse against speech that is merely offensive. A democracy must tolerate offense; individuals can choose to tell those speaking offensively to shut up.

For instance, if someone wants to tell me that all women are great and all men are stupid, I don’t agree with that, but I shouldn’t be able to report them to Twitter or law enforcement for harassing me. If they tell me that they’re coming to my house to prove this point to me, I might have a concern about it, rather.

Again, a point of intersection. Slippery slope: Twitter says right now they’re using these verification steps to reduce harassment when it’s reported or detected. If you can’t get and use a Twitter account anonymously at all, that feels like a chilling effect, even though Twitter isn’t the government.


#9

But those already exist! Part of the current battle is the push by channers to try to bring chan culture into Twitter.


#10

This website exists. The users SWAT people constantly, celebrating murdering other peoples’ pets and ruining lives, and share child abuse pictures. Now, anonymity isn’t the issue here - it’s moderation. There are plenty of people on twitter who do exactly those same things, they’re just allowed to by twitter… which is the problem.


#11

I completely agree with you in some aspects! (I didn’t expect to agree with you this much.) The question is how Twitter wields that sword (mixed metaphor, sorry).

I don’t think everyone should be required to take their shoes off in airports, either.


#12

Which sites?

If you’re talking about GG sites like 8chan, that’s the tip of the iceberg of sites that create such a toxic online culture.


#13

Even still the number of people affected is a drop in the ocean of Twitters user base. I do not question their suffering, rather the proportionality of the response.

[quote=“GlennF, post:8, topic:56302”]
…of people who we are not following and, judging by other tweets we and others have blocked, we don’t want to hear from.[/quote]

Assuming the software works 100% correctly all of the time. I have no such faith in automated systems, hell I don’t have that kind of faith in humans. I can’t think of a single person I would allow to make that kind of editorial decision in my place.

In the early days there was a lot of unintentional blocking by BlockTogether. Chris Grant of Polygon for example had to walk back his blocking because of the wide net it cast. While it’s probably better now this kind of problem is inherent to these “solutions”. People will get onto these lists and never get off. It’s the “no-fly list” of the internet, made with the best of intentions it will still create problems for people.

As will the system, inevitably. This is what the police example shows.

[quote=“GlennF, post:8, topic:56302”]
If you can’t get and use a Twitter account anonymously at all, that feels like a chilling effect, even though Twitter isn’t the government.[/quote]

It’s also quite useless in a world where you can buy hand-crafted “verified” accounts for less than a dollar.


#14

What evidence do you have that the “number of people affected” by twitter harassment is miniscule? What % of people being harassed do you think acceptable? What number of people being forced from their houses, or spammed with racism and threats? And what evidence do you have that the real number is under your acceptable limit?

What do you propose should be done about harassment?


#15

Plenty of people say really fucking shitty stuff without being anonymous. I see it every day on Facebook.


#16

As far as I know no numbers exist one way or the other. However Twitter’s user base is currently 288 million users according to Google, this seems like a very large number compared to the people who complain about harassment.

We could probably reduce crime significantly, maybe even to near zero, if we introduced east German style Stasi tactics. How many murders do you think are acceptable, why put your personal freedom above someone else’s life ?
The truth is proportionality of the response matters even if realising that makes us feel uncomfortable. Of course everyone will put the threshold of a legitimate response at a different level. Personally I am probably at the low end of that scale.

I think law enforcement is up to handling it as-is. Maybe some extra basic spam-filtering. It’s basically bullying, it’s a social problem not a technical one and I don’t think you can solve it with technology.


#17

I fully acknowledge that there’s a cost somewhere where you stop - but you have to at least consider and calculate where that cost is. Just shrugging and going “Sorry, but you’re not worth protecting” to people who are being completely swarmed with harassment and abuse, and then condemning and attacking them, like you have in the past, for taking steps to defend themselves is cruel.

But hey, you’re OK with condemning people for taking basic steps to defend themselves (like blocking people who follow admitted rapists, people who spread revenge porn, child abusers, and people who out and dox trans women), and go on about freedoms and then expect… the police to handle it?

The police?

Yes, I am absolutely sure that the police are going to do something about, say, a black woman receiving constant abuse on twitter, being targeted for SWATing, etc.

Absolutely going to be their top priority. After all, look how helpful they’ve been with this whole GG thing, where people have publically stated their intent is to kill others. Lots of people in jail from that, right?


#18

You are neither a woman nor a person of color and I bet you’re straight and cis-gendered, too.

As someone who has actually been a victim of “revenge porn”, the cops were of NO help and they actually called me and threatened me with harassment charges (someone had broken into my email account and was sending a lot of shit to a very high official in a very important state department I was at the time working for). Thankfully they believed me but I was literally told there was nothing they could do… but at least they didn’t arrest me.

I was then forced to resign, so what was I going to do about it? I had no resources. No money. No job. So yeah. The cops were a HUGE HELP!! Seriously? Are you honestly that fucking naive or being willfully obtuse?

And just look at Baltimore. Come on.

And your “it’s a social problem, not a technology problem” is not completely untrue, but it also misses the point. It’s BOTH. The bullying is happening online so you must address both the social aspects and the technological aspects – indeed, there are going to be ways to address social issues with technology. Actually, there already are. Lots of so-called SJW’s use technology every. single. day. to work toward social change.


#19

I also want to really point out the sheer selfish hypocrisy of Fortboy, especially when considering their previous discussions on the matter when they spoke poorly of people using things like the blockbot of auto-blocker.

If people are suffering from harassment and abuse, and a company tries to stop it, well, that’s bad, because other people are poorly effected - you need to look at the analysis and understand there’s an acceptable level of harassment for the good of all, and there’s only a tiny minority of people (according to them) being harassed anyway.

If someone wants to message another person who had suffered harassment and abuse and took steps to defend themselves, so the first person can’t send that message, well, that’s AWFUL. Forget the analysis of how that person’s life has improved based on their own choices - your right to send them a message takes precedent, there’s NO acceptable level of people choosing to mass-block and maybe hitting a tiny minority of people who aren’t awful (and instead just choose to subscribe to the messages of truly awful people).

The only way it’s a consistent metric is if you view abuse as something that there’s no need to stop.


#20

I am willing to bet my left ovary that @Forkboy is a fan of a certain Michael Nugent…