There is nothing more annoying online than Internet trolls. They inhabit the dark underbelly of the comments sections. They ravage and destroy any corner of the web they get their claws on. They’re like cockroaches that hide in crevices in an old building and scuttle out en masse, making some poor person scream. But finally, it appears a call to arms has been sounded to drive back the hordes.
In a Twitter internal forum message that was acquired by The Verge, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo acknowledges the company’s poor handling of online harassment and abuse, taking the blame on himself. His comments were a response to a post from an employee citing a story in The Guardian and NPR’s This American Life on Lindy West, a writer on women’s issues who has been a target of repeated attacks on Twitter, asking what could be done. “I’m aware that Twitter is well within its rights to let its platform be used as a vehicle for sexist and racist harassment. But, as a private company—just like a comedian mulling over a rape joke, or a troll looking for a target for his anger—it could choose not to. As a collective of human beings, it could choose to be better,” reads the citation from West’s article.
A follow-up message:
Twitter made some improvements to its process for reporting abuse back in December. The social media site recently partnered with Women, Action, & Media to make it easier for women to report harassment. But so far, that hasn’t been enough. Other notable female figures who have been targets of abuse include Anita Sarkeesian, who is one of several targets of the GamerGate antagonists, as well as Zelda Williams with the messages and images she received after the passing of her father, Robin Williams.
It’s unclear exactly how Twitter will handle the trolls, but Costolo did promise that “the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issue.”