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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Twitter's abuse policy should be both firm and fair

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Following up on my last post, Twitter does need to be more aggressive with abuse of women but their policy also needs to be fair, consistent and understandable. That was not the case with Twitter's ban of Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned after a campaign of racist harassment against actress Leslie Jones. I have researched the story and in everything I have read I have not seen any solid evidence that Yiannopoulos targeted Jones for harassment or directed anyone to harass her.

He did criticize her, and tell her everyone gets hate mail. (Yiannopoulos has gotten death threats himself and has had people leave dead animals on his front doorstep.) But by Twitter's nebulous standard on targeted harassment, I could be permanently banned for my criticism of Donald Trump, especially when I mention @RealDonaldTrump by name. Twitter needs to make that standard much more clear.

As for Yiannopoulos, yes he is a troll. He is a jerk. He makes a living being intentionally offensive and needlessly insulting people. I am not defending him as a personality. My problem with the ban is it was so dishonest. Had Twitter simply said that Yiannopoulos is more trouble than he is worth, or even that they just feel like banning him, I would be fine with it. Twitter has every right to ban anyone for any reason.

But Twitter did not do that. They falsely accused Yiannopoulos of leading a campaign of targeted harassment. That is why so many Yiannopoulos' fans (and some of his non-fans) reacted negatively to the ban, and why #FreeMilo started trending immediately. Had Twitter just been honest, this controversy would have caused them a lot less trouble.

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