Twitter clamping down on trolls

Twitter has announced that they have decided to clamp down harder on trolls, and at the same time have permanently banned a high profile abuser. This is an overdue toughening up, as Twitter had establish an unenviable reputation as an unsafe place.

A lot has been written about the problems. From Why some people choose to take on their Twitter trolls:

Twitter has an abuse problem — one that has been documented over, and over, and over again. For years now, choosing to have an opinion on social media is to be forced to decide how much time and emotional space to give others.

Some stand up to the bullies and abusers, but this can be challenging when dealing with anonymous cowards. Others simply give up and go elsewhere, and that may be a flood that Twitter is trying to stem.

Buzzfeed News: Twitter Permanently Suspends Conservative Writer Milo Yiannopoulos

The move comes less than a day after the notorious internet troll led a tweeted harassment campaign against Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones.

Twitter has banned one of its most notoriously contentious voices. On Tuesday evening, the microblogging service permanently suspended the account of conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, a day after he incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones with racist and demeaning tweets.

“People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter,” a company spokesperson said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News. “But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others.”

Yiannopoulos, who currently serves as Breitbart’s tech editor, has been hailed as a voice of the new “alt-right” movement. As such, he has made a living as a provocateur, continually inflaming tensions between progressive branches of the internet focused on identity politics and the fervently anti-PC segment that constantly trolls it.

For years, Yiannopoulous has used Twitter not only to voice his controversial opinions, but to direct his legion of followers (388,042 at the time of this writing) toward his opponents. As a result, he’s been temporarily banned from Twitter a number of times for violating its terms of service and stripped of his verified status.

But this week he went too far. According to Twitter, it was Yiannopoulos who led theharassment campaign against Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones — an effort that inspired the SNL cast member to leave Twitter. The barrage of tweets, many of which decried Jones for being black and a woman, were the final straw for Twitter, which is working to try to solve its harassment problem.

I’ve been the target of ongoing harassment and abuse myself. Most people probably don’t dig their toes in and refuse to be driven off as strongly as me, quite understandably.

It won’t be easy changing the cultures of abuse that have established themselves on Twitter.

Many people seem to think that the Internet generally and services like Twitter give them an unfettered opportunity to be arseholes who aim to shut others up and drive them away. Like Yiannopoulos:

According to the company, Yiannopoulos’s permanent suspension isn’t a matter of speech as much as a matter of behavior — specifically, a violation of Twitter’s rulesregarding the targeted abuse of specific users.

“They made a very dumb decision right before I had the eyes of the world media on me. I think they’re going to come to regret it,” he said. “Anyone who believes in free speech was sent a very powerful message today, which is that you’re not welcome on Twitter.”

If Twitter do it right then it will be people like Yiannopoulos, who misuse their power and gangs of bullies and other people’s online facilities,  who are not welcome any more on Twitter.

“With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”

Abusive arses are the cowards who bring no-go zones on themselves.

And those who act responsibility will have more freedom to speak without risking being targeted and harassed by trolls.

But the test of whether Twitter is serious about cleaning things up is how they react to less high profile abuses that go on.