Taking a stand against twitter trolls

One thing I think we can all agree on is that Twitter, love it or hate it, is rife with twitter trolls. Racism, sexism, plain old targeted abuse and those sad and bored individuals who sit at home purposely looking for tweets to send stupid replies to and trying to start fights online.

With the rise of social media and the ability to hide behind a screen, twitter trolls have taken to abusing celebrities or anyone with a medium sized platform.. actually just about anyone. And although I don’t intend to take everyone else’s problems into my own hands, I happen to think there is more we can all do to send a message that it’s not OK to treat other human beings in that way. I’ve never been the subject of online bullying or abuse, but I can imagine that receiving hurtful comments over and over again would eventually get to even the strongest among us.

I also feel strongly that if something is annoying or upsetting you, you should do something about it and not just complain. I don’t for a second imply that people receiving abuse online are responsible for trying to stop it. No one should have to deal with other people behaving in that way, especially if it is constant and from loads of different people – but in the absence of Twitter being able to control content, there are things we can do to make it better.

So what have I been doing? Reporting them. Actively seeking out people sending targeted abuse and reporting them. All of the buggers.

OK, bear with me on this.

You probably think it’s pointless and wont solve the problem and clearly, sending a few reports isn’t going to suddenly clean up twitter. But if a user breaks the twitter user guidelines and you report them for it, Twitter will take action. In the past few months I have reported countless twitter trolls for tweeting racist content, or sending targeted abuse to people. And more often than not, it works.

So what happens? Once you select the option to report an account, twitter will show you a list of options i.e. “engaging in targeted harassment – against someone else”. The system then allows you to browse through the user’s tweets and replies and select up to 5 tweets to include. Twitter will log your report and if action is taken, you’ll receive an update (usually) within a few days.

Here’s one I made earlier:

Reporting twitter trolls

This poor, sad little chap was tweeting some pretty awful homophobic abuse both at specific people and generally around twitter. I found him after  celebrity tweeted a picture of two men kissing and Mr Troll decided to unleash his weird little brain into a tweet. His account hasn’t been suspended, but Twitter have found him in violation of their guidelines. If he gets reported for the same thing again (or lots of times), it’s more likely they’ll do something about it.

You need to have an understanding of what the twitter guidelines are before reporting people willy nilly, but, for example someone tweeting “you’re an ugly b****” at someone, goes against twitter’s guidelines and if the behaviour is consistent, something will get done.

Although twitter wont tell you exactly what action they take, it is possible to view the user’s account after you have reported them and, in some cases, twitter will close their account, either temporarily or permanently. No doubt that person will probably just set up another account at some point but it at least sends a message that behaving like that is not OK. One person making a report today isn’t going to change everything, but everyone making a concerted effort to DO something and not just ignore it – is better than nothing.

Has anyone else tried reporting online abuse? What was your experience?


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