Twitter abuse and magic wands
Some top-of-the-head thoughts on the issue of dealing with abuse on Twitter. There seems to be a widespread impression that this is a clear-cut issue with an obvious solution; while I absolutely agree that there is a major, systemic problem with online abuse, particularly that directed towards women, I think many of the calls for action are glossing over the practical difficulties of dealing with it. It feels a bit odd having to say this, but: just because there is an obvious problem doesn’t mean that there is a simple solution. And there are many reasons to be wary when people start saying “something must be done”, without having a clear idea of what that something is. All too often, you start by saying that something must be done, and end by saying “oh god, we didn’t mean that”.
These are some of the more obvious questions that the debate has raised. To be clear, this isn’t an argument that no action should be taken, or that campaigns should cease - merely that these are some of the practical questions Twitter already have to address, and that those campaigning for Twitter policy changes should therefore consider as well: