Twitter's long had a problem with trolls hurling abuse and harassing other users. Now, its CEO Dick Costolo has admitted how big the problem is, accepting that the blame lies squarely at his feet and declaring that the company will make dramatic changes to help stamp it out.
In a series of leaked internal memos obtained by The Verge, Costolo wrote:
On Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 8:35 PM, Dick Costolo wrote:
We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years. It's no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing.
We're going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.
Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.
He later followed up the message, reiterating that he takes personal responsibility for the issues:
On Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 12:45 PM, Dick Costolo wrote:
Let me be very very clear about my response here. I take PERSONAL responsibility for our failure to deal with this as a company. I thought i did that in my note, so let me reiterate what I said, which is that I take personal responsibility for this. I specifically said "It's nobody's fault but mine"
We HAVE to be able to tell each other the truth, and the truth that everybody in the world knows is that we have not effectively dealt with this problem even remotely to the degree we should have by now, and that's on me and nobody else. So now we're going to fix it, and I'm going to take full responsibility for making sure that the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issue, that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability, and that we don't equivocate in our decisions and choices.
The comments come in response to questions about recent harassment of Lindy West — which included trolls creating a Twitter account for her then recently-deceased father. Of course, Twitter has frequently been criticised for how it handles online safety. In the past it's made efforts to make it easier to deal with harassment, though clearly they haven't been as successful as Costolo would like.
What changes the company will make in reality remain to be seen. But it sure sounds like Costolo is taking it seriously. [The Verge]