Like many, I struggle to understand Twitters rules of the road. I see, too often people suspended for what appears to me to be non-consequential tweets – by that I mean non-threatening – just ranting about some topic or person. But it seems to be selective because I also see tweets from some that I would consider something that Twitter should do something about, and don’t. Those of us that discuss this on the platform are confused as to have the rules are applied and that they are applied selectively instead of in a blanket manner. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with Twitter fairly applying their own rules to everyone. This is not about left versus right, but right versus wrong.
Recently, my friend Sarah Braasch was permanently banned from Twitter. Over the holidays, I had not been on much and therefore was unaware of her ban until very recently. What in the world could it have been that caused her to receive this punishment? A friend sent me this, which she had received from Sarah:
How is complaining about being cyber-bullied and mobbed hateful conduct on Sarah’s part? Did an actual human look at the tweet before the ban was implemented? If so, then there are probably a few million other users that should be banned as well. This is the problem that no one that I know can figure out. Of course Sarah has appealed the ban, but as of this writing, has not received a response.
Of course Twitter may just ignore the appeal and that is that but what does this mean for the rest of us who may complain about a person, that may be attempting to mob any of us? Simply reporting the user(s) to Twitter doesn’t seem to have a lot of effect as I’ve had two people I know on the platform, harassed in recent months that did complain and it seems that Twitter did absolutely nothing about it. Both users were forced to take their accounts private for a while until the mob moved on to another victim.
I written a lot about Twitter and their rules of engagement over the last couple of years but to me, this is one of the more egregious examples of punishing someone. In this example, they are punishing the victim.
What can users do to change how Twitter views what it refers to as safety? no one wants to see anyone harassed or physically threatened on the platform and I agree with Jack Dorsey that this should be Twitters number one responsibility to their users but there should be a more precise way for Twitter to determine what those are and to apply it universally instead of what appears to be selectively. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to have every suspect tweet, out of hundreds of millions (billions?) per day viewed by an actual human, but there might be ways of tweaking the algorithms in order thast the rules be applied more sensibly and fairly.
For me, I try to limit my time on Twitter (although. there are days I spend more time than usual online) and I’m careful with whom I interact with at all times. When I think about it, there are only maybe two dozen other users I regularly interact with and most of those are people I’ve “known” for a few years. I also ignore, or if I have to mute/block people that have nothing else to do than try and bully me or others. That seems to be all any of may be able to do to prevent being either suspended or outright banned.
I hope that Twitter eventually reviews their decision concerning Sarah and restores her account. I have my doubts based on how they’ve acted in the past, but it could happen.