Make It Go Away


Well, the person who reviews abuse complaints at Twitter responded again.1

The automatic response that gave me some level of hope:

Hello,

This is confirmation that Twitter has received your report.

The Twitter Trust & Safety team will review your report and take action if the user is found to be violating the Twitter Rules (https://twitter.com/rules). We may follow up with you if we need further information.

What else can you do?

• Do not respond to the user. We have found that responding to someone who is intentionally attempting to aggravate you or others encourages them to continue their behavior.
• Block the user. You can block the user using the blocking feature described here: https://support.twitter.com/entries/117063
• Learn more about how to deal with abusive users: https://support.twitter.com/articles/15794
• Learn how to flag inappropriate media here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20069937

Contact Law Enforcement

If something has gone beyond the point of a personal conflict and has escalated to the point of actionable violent threats, whether it be online or offline, please contact your local law enforcement so they can accurately assess the validity of the issue.

If contacted by law enforcement directly, we can work with them and provide the necessary information for their investigation of your issue. You can point local law enforcement to our Law Enforcement Guidelines (https://support.twitter.com/articles/41949).

For more information on our abuse policy and how to deal with abusive behavior, please review the following:

• Abusive behavior policy: https://support.twitter.com/articles/20169997
• Dealing with abusive users: https://support.twitter.com/articles/15794

The decision email:

Hello,

Thanks for letting us know about your issue. Here are some tips to help you with your situation:

* Do not respond to the user. We have found that responding to someone who is intentionally attempting to aggravate you or others encourages them to continue their behavior.
* Block the user. You can block the user using the blocking feature described here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/117063

* Learn more about how to deal with abusive users: https://support.twitter.com/articles/15794
* Learn how to flag inappropriate media here:
https://support.twitter.com/articles/20069937
We’ve investigated the account and reported Tweets for abusive behavior, and have found that it’s currently not violating the Twitter Rules (https://twitter.com/rules).

If someone feels personally threatened, or if you believe the content you are reporting is prohibited in your local jurisdiction, please contact your local authorities with the information you provided to us. You can point local law enforcement to our Law Enforcement Guidelines here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/41949.

Please respond to this ticket to let us know if you believe the behavior has escalated or otherwise violates our rules.

My response to that email:

Why is suggesting that a person is “Honey Boo Boo in 15 years” not abusive?

The next response from them:

Twitter provides a communication service. As a policy, we do not mediate content or intervene in disputes between users. Users are allowed to post content, including potentially inflammatory content, provided that they do not violate the Twitter Terms of Service and Rules. For information on reporting a Terms of Service violation, please see this help page: https://support.twitter.com/entries/15789

If you believe the content or behavior you are reporting is prohibited in your local jurisdiction, please contact your local authorities so they can accurately assess the content or behavior for possible violations of local law. If Twitter is contacted directly by law enforcement, we can work with them and provide assistance for their investigation as well as guidance around possible approaches. You can point local law enforcement to our Law Enforcement Guidelines here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/41949.

If you have a Twitter account, you can also block the user, which will prevent the account from following you on Twitter or appearing in your mentions tab. You can block someone by following these instructions:

https://support.twitter.com/entries/117063

My response:

I HAVE blocked him. Saying that I’m Honey Boo Boo in 15 years is more than just offensive. And I wasn’t actively engaged in a dispute with this user. I was being bombarded by tweets from him and from his friends that were filled with insults. They were retweeting and favoriting this and other abusive comments. How does this not seem abusive to you?

The latest email from them:

Twitter only takes actions on accounts that violate the Twitter Rules (https://twitter.com/rules). We understand it can be frustrating to be the recipient of this kind of attention, but our role is that of a communications platform, and we do not mediate or remove speech that does not violate our rules.

Consider reaching out to those around you for help, like friends, family, and even your local authorities for more support. By allowing them to see this behavior, they can help you determine what you should do offline to help your situation. Please let us know if you believe the behavior has escalated or otherwise violates our rules.

Please remember that in some cases removing content (or trying to) is more likely to get the content distributed more widely and to draw more attention to the content. We have generally found that providing the reported user with any kind of response often times encourages them to continue their behavior as they are getting the attention they want.

If you believe the content or behavior you are reporting is prohibited in your local jurisdiction, please contact your local authorities so they can accurately assess the content or behavior for possible violations of local law. If Twitter is contacted directly by law enforcement, we can work with them and provide assistance for their investigation as well as guidance around possible approaches. You can point local law enforcement to our Law Enforcement Guidelines here: https://support.twitter.com/articles/41949.

Here are additional resources:

* Dealing with abusive users: https://support.twitter.com/articles/15794
* Blocking other users: https://support.twitter.com/articles/117063
* Making your profile protected: https://support.twitter.com/entries/14016

So they still aren’t going to do anything. I’m trying to be mature and not throw some sort of tantrum over this, but it feels like they don’t take this seriously. Unfortunately, I know that if I were to report it to law enforcement that nothing would be done. And that’s really disgusting. People are allowed to behave in such vile and inhuman ways and no one is willing to stop it. That’s pretty fucked up. I want to send this response to the last email, but I’m not sure it would even matter if I do:

I’ve actually read the rules a few times. The rules include prohibiting a user from engaging in targeted abuse. How does this not qualify? It wasn’t just frustrating. It was humiliating. It was degrading. For a little while there, it made me want to kill myself. What they did certainly qualifies as some form of harassment and the truly “frustrating” thing is that there seems to be nothing that you are willing to do. Telling a person who has had this kind of thing happen that it isn’t abuse or doesn’t violate your rules is a slap in the face. It makes it seem like anyone can say anything that they want on the service and that nothing will be done.

The responses from the support team have thoroughly pissed me off. I blocked the tweets. As far as I know, I never interacted with him. The ringleader, yes, but not this person and I haven’t replied to anything they have said any time after the worst of it started. The suggestion that this was a dispute is infuriating. It was not a dispute.2 What I originally said to the guy shouldn’t have triggered his response. Even my snarky response to him saying I was a manatee wasn’t worthy of being a dispute. I shouldn’t have to make my profile protected. I shouldn’t have to tell my friends and family offline about this stuff. This is something taking place on their service, something they say that they don’t allow. It turns out that they do allow it. I shouldn’t be the person who is forced to change her life and her actions. I did nothing wrong, and this feels like they’re putting the responsibility on me. It feels like it’s not seen as the big deal that it actually is. I know that some people think that this kind of thing doesn’t hurt or doesn’t matter, but for some of us, it does.

I know that they think that it is okay to keep this stuff on there because the other people involved have First Amendment rights, but the First Amendment does not make this behavior okay. It doesn’t even make it protected. These tweets weren’t a group of people espousing their political opinions. They aren’t directed at a government. They aren’t on a website belonging to the government. They are abusive tweets on a business’s website, and that business has every right to refuse service to these people for violating rules that the people involved agreed to when they signed up for the site. If Twitter doesn’t mediate or do a thing when something happens, then they shouldn’t have the rule or the support team. If the only thing that they’re going to do is send form letters and dismissive responses, then why bother? Does it make them think that they look better? To me, this whole inaction and worthless policy makes them look really bad.

I’ve used Twitter for a long time. I’ve used the internet in general for a long time. I’ve received rude comments over the years. There have been blog entries written by others about me. There have been anonymous questions sent to me. There have been all sorts of things that have been upsetting or annoying or hurtful, but nothing has ever hurt my feelings so quickly and then been so quickly dismissed by the people who have the option to make things right. And that is very frustrating.


  1. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I wrote about it here

  2. As this was a group thing, I think each person involved is responsible for the actions of the group. 


About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.