Maybe you’ve heard this one: someone posts something they think is innocuous or innocent on Twitter, and suddenly mobs are swarming them, blowing up their phone and tablet and laptop with notifications and saying things that would offend the average 13-year-old boy.
The problem is nearly constant on social media, especially Twitter, which, in these arguments, routinely lands on the free speech side of the spectrum.
This stance has legions of both supporters and detractors, but it tends to rarely make it into the more formal spotlight of professional media. A recent Buzzfeed article sought to change that, though. In a 5,000 word treatise on Twitter’s management of harassment complaints, reporter Charlie Warzel absolutely excoriated the social media platform, using quotes from multiple former employees.
Now, a moment here to bask in that all too fraught phrase “former employees”. Grains of salt, please. After all, we can all attest former employees are almost always the best source of dirt on their former employer. Because they love them so very, very much.
Okay, disclaimer aside, Twitter’s terse (of course) response to Warzel’s opus only fanned the flames. Here’s what they said, according to CNN:
“We feel there are inaccuracies in the details and unfair portrayals but rather than go back and forth with BuzzFeed, we are going to continue our work on making Twitter a safer place… There is a lot of work to do, but please know we are committed, focused, and will have updates to share soon.”
Supporters of Twitter’s stance will point to that last phrase and say, “see, they see the issue, and they’re working on it.”
Of course, the statement has plenty of red meat for detractors and spurned Tweeters as well, who are likely thinking: “Unfair portrayals? Yeah, like I had to put up with from thousands of strangers… Thanks for understanding Twitter.”
Wherever you land on this debate, it’s clear Twitter feels they have some work to do.
David Milberg is a New York financial analyst.