One Way To Fix Twitter’s Hate Spam Problem

And it is hate spam. In light of the recent discovery that anti-Semites and neo-Nazis have been harassing and threatening Jewish writers on various social media platforms (I can’t believe I just wrote social media platforms…), it’s clear Twitter needs to do something about its hate spam problem (boldface mine):

Years ago, Facebook made a policy decision that steered the company towards identity verification in order to cut down on duplicate, spam, and troll accounts. As the internet has become a larger and hairier place, this policy has not eliminated, but at least greatly reduced, the incidence of spam that most users see.

Meanwhile Twitter, perhaps desperate for growth, has left its signup process wide open to abuse. There essentially is no gatekeeper, which is why it is laden with trolls. Racism, sexism, misogyny, hate and anger of all stripes finds a home on its timeline. Many famous users, like Louis CK and Lena Dunham, have deleted their Twitter profiles, or at least the app, to limit their exposure to abuse.

I realize my suggestion would make Twitter less accessible to lower income people, and disproportionately so, but if Twitter required a credit card or some other form of potential online payment to gain a small number of accounts, they could cut down on hate spam. A payment to use Twitter wouldn’t be required, however, if the terms of service were violated, two things would happen:

1) The offender gets hit with a very small fine.
2) Most spammers aren’t going to get a new credit card just to hound someone. The hate spammer’s form of payment could either be ‘suspended’ for a period of time or given a lifetime ban (depending on the number of offenses, type of offense, etc.).

Alternatively, some form of ID could be submitted (e.g., driver’s license).

Admittedly, this system would require Twitter to upgrade its security. But Twitter needs to do something to prevent anyone from engaging in multiple spam attacks. It has been an intermittent cesspool for a while now (something women are definitely aware of).

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2 Responses to One Way To Fix Twitter’s Hate Spam Problem

  1. itsathought2 says:

    Having been suspended for a bit by Twitter, I well aware of the system in place to deal with abusers. Indeed, it is if anything, a bit too easy to get someone suspended. I was not even told why I was suspended when they reactivated me although it was a bit coincidental that it was just after I called Trump an Ankle Licker.

    Yeah. I could have started over, but my presence on twitter would have been cut hugely. I would go from 600 people ignoring me to the 10 bots who follow everyone regardless. I question the idea that “newly opened accounts can quickly regain the followers and reach that shuttered ones had” It takes a while to gain 600 followers. And that is not even very many if you want your message to be truly heard.

    And it only takes one report to get you suspended or permanently removed if the review finds the reported tweet warrants it. Which an anti-semite tweet would.

    But, in any case, I hate the idea of limiting access to one of the largest and most socially powerful tools based on access to money. The poor are already underrepresented so many places.

    The internet is often an ugly place often showing us the side of humans that we find easy to hide in real life social situations.

    But it is one of the few ways that every day humans can express their viewpoints and have their viewpoints collected and heard. And twitter is one of the most powerful places that happens. I think it would be more harmful to limit the access than any benefit accrued by creating a monetary punishment for abuse.

    I do think that Twitter could be more proactive. It’s not that hard to create searches for the appropriate language and hire someone to monitor it. It is easy to fool those searches but I imagine it would catch a bunch of stuff.

    But individuals in app reporting abuse is still the best solution.

  2. The lack of anonymity that I can count on has, on occasion, kept me from speaking out against abusive and hateful comments on social media, and from expressing opinions that are critical of people and institutions with power. I don’t want some vile scumbag, whether they are a private citizen or a public official, to be able to find me in “the real world” and physically attack me for something I wrote online.

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