Twitter prides itself on being “what’s happening,” but unfortunately for the company’s users, what’s frequently happening is unchecked harassment. CEO Jack Dorsey apparently has plans to change all that, and today put forth a roadmap for curbing abuse on the social media platform.
In an Oct. 19 post, the Twitter Safety team published a detailed calendar listing target dates and goals for changing the site’s rules. Taking it a step further, Twitter promised to share “regular, real-time updates” on its efforts to make the service “a safer place.”
To kick things off, starting in late October, Twitter intends to alter its policies regarding “non-consensual nudity” and the manner in which it handles suspension appeals.
“We are expanding our definition of non-consensual nudity to err on the side of protecting victims and include content where the victim may not be aware that the images were taken (this includes content such as upskirt photos, hidden webcams),” the page explains. “Anyone we identify as the original poster of non-consensual nudity will be suspended immediately.”
Not all terms of service violations, however, are as clear cut as someone posting creepshots. There have been numerous high-profile incidents of people being suspended for seemingly absurd reasons, and the company explained that it will make the process of appealing those suspensions more transparent.
“If an account is suspended for abuse, the account owner can appeal the verdict,” notes the calendar. “If we did not make an error, we will respond to appeals with detailed descriptions of how the account violated the rules.”
And if Twitter did make an error? Presumably, it will reverse course — although this document doesn’t detail that process.
Those two changes, slated to go into effect on Oct. 27, are a big first step. But they are just that — a first step. The company has a more complete list of planned actions for November, December, and January, including something called “Witness Reporting.”
The idea behind this is in line with the release of the roadmap itself — it’s all about transparency. When someone reports, say, harassment on Twitter, that reporter frequently has no idea what steps (if any) Twitter has taken in response. It can feel a bit like shouting into a void, and the company wants to change that.
“Currently we only send notifications (in-app and email) to people who submit first-person reports,” notes the Safety Team. “We will notify the reporter of a tweet when that report that comes from someone who witnesses an abusive/negative interaction.”
Basically, Twitter is going to start telling you that it heard you, and that it’s (theoretically) doing something about it.
But will any of this be enough to substantively address Twitter’s very real problems? Predicting the future of the internet is an exceedingly tricky proposition, but Dorsey is clearly hoping that allowing us a peek behind the curtain will engender some trust that his company is, at the very least, actively working to make the platform a better place.
In the end, only time will tell. Thankfully we have a Twitter-provided calendar to check off the dates.