During the company’s quarterly earnings call, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey came out with a stern statement on the topic of safety and harassment on the site. Stating that Twitter’s aim is to elevate civil discourse, he said that abuse has no place in such discourse and that it “prevents us from understanding one another.” He added that “no one deserves to be a target online.”
Dorsey admitted that Twitter has dropped the ball on the issue of harassment and bullying and said that the company is working on new technology solutions, as well as ensuring that policy and enforcement is consistent. He promised that more improvements are on the way.
We’re a place for news and social commentary. At its best, the platform allows people to reach across the divide…we recognize it’s a high hope to elevate civil discourse. I emphasize ‘civil discourse’. Abuse is not part of civil discourse. It shuts down conversation and prevents us from understanding one another. No one deserves to be a target of abuse online and it doesn’t have a place on Twitter.
Questions about Twitter’s safety measures have been raised numerous times by people tweeting to the company’s investor relations account asking about safety concerns and whether the company’s approach to freedom of expression has changed. Some speculate that Dorsey’s response today came from a prepared statement:
sounded like reading a prepared answer https://t.co/1n8dj044tU
— Erin Griffith (@eringriffith) July 26, 2016
Regardless, the larger issue is that Twitter has a harassment problem that has caused people to leave the service. Users are plagued by bullying, racism, and other forms of harassment from various users, and there are numerous cases of the company being criticized for failing to enforce policies put in place to protect users. The most recent incident led to “Ghostbuster” actress Leslie Jones leaving the service, albeit temporarily, after being harassed by users. Ultimately, Twitter terminated the offending accounts and banned Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart.All this cause I did a movie.You can hate the movie but the shit I got today…wrong
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
As Twitter announced in its Q2 2016 earnings today, the company generated $602 million in revenue. Twitter is also in the midst of an effort to turn itself around and garner more users. This past quarter, it added 3 million new users, something that Dorsey attributed to product changes being made. “We’re making the right decisions,” he said. However, if better policing isn’t implemented, ensuring that the platform is a safe place for people to discuss ideas and world events, Twitter will need more than product changes to get users back.