Twitter’s chief executive officer Dick Costolo has openly admitted that the company has a major problem with abuse and trolls on its platform, and hasn’t done a particularly good job of tackling it.
In an internal memo obtained by The Verge, Costolo speaks frankly about Twitter’s ongoing battle with abusive behaviour on its network, and how he takes full responsibility for their failure to stop it.
Costolo’s comments were made after a Twitter employee asked if anything could be done.
We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.
I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.
We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.
Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.
Costolo then sent this follow-up message.
Let me be very very clear about my response here. I take PERSONAL responsibility for our failure to deal with this as a company. I thought i did that in my note, so let me reiterate what I said, which is that I take personal responsibility for this. I specifically said “It’s nobody’s fault but mine”
We HAVE to be able to tell each other the truth, and the truth that everybody in the world knows is that we have not effectively dealt with this problem even remotely to the degree we should have by now, and that’s on me and nobody else. So now we’re going to fix it, and I’m going to take full responsibility for making sure that the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issue, that there are clear lines of responsibility and accountability, and that we don’t equivocate in our decisions and choices.
Twitter has faced widespread criticism for its inability to combat abusive tweets. Last year the daughter of Robin Williams temporarily quit after being subjected to repeated harassment on Twitter after her father’s passing, which was just one of many incidents involving both high-profile and everyday users. Twitter has taken some steps to counter the issue, but they have been seen as largely ineffective by observers. Time will tell, but Costolo’s frank posts appear to be a step in the right direction.
Article courtesy of SocialTimes Feed
Speed summary of a useful research report from Microsoft (download) on our multi-screening digital lives; how we use second screens whilst watching TV – based on ethnographic research and a survey of 3586 adults in US, UK, Canada, Australia and Brazil in early 2013.
If analytical psychology interests you as creative stimulus (and it should…), check out this great video walkthrough (below) on applying Jungian archetypes to marketing from Step Change Marketing. Although my PhD supervisor once quipped that (outside marketing) there are few card-carrying Jungians left, within marketing, generations of planners and creatives have found Jungian archetypes a rich and useful creative framework.
Turn on your radio-activated tooth fillings and cover your windows in aluminum foil because someone – no one knows who, for sure – has asked that Gawker writer Max Read’s homemade NSA PRISM t-shirts be removed from the Internet. Read created the t-shirts as a joke, selling a grand total of three items before Zazzle shut down his store after citing “infringement claims.”
The T-shirt uses the NSA PRISM logo which itself was stolen without attribution from a photo made by a British television host named Adam Hart-Davis. The logo originally appeared in the Powerpoint made by NSA spooks to explain their exciting new project to potential software partners.
It is technically against the law to make merchandise bearing federal logos (but the law is laxly applied) so Read is technically in the wrong. But really? What shadowy cabal of intellectual property holders contacted Zazzle to have the t-shirt pulled? What’s to stop a mild-mannered reporter from creating his own NSA shirt? Does our nation’s security apparatus really have so little else to do than pull rank on Zazzle? I’ve contacted Zazzle directly but I suspect their press office is currently being muzzled by threats on their lives and the lives of their families (or is enjoying a nice Saturday afternoon). Either way, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
UPDATE – Zazzle wrote:
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Yesterday I wrote about the ongoing CNET editorial independence issue. I said that the editors and journalists at CNET were part of the problem, and suggested that they either publish their (assumed) dissent, or resign, or both.
A conversation began in the comments of that post, with some people saying that it isn’t reasonable to expect people to resign.
From Danny Sullivan:
I think a lot of CNET staffers probably aren’t resigning, Mike, because they have families to support, as well as themselves. It’s not exactly a great economy out there. I think what Greg did was very brave, but not everyone is that brave nor even able to make that type of move.
I don’t blame people in today’s publishing business for wanting to line up work first. Not everybody can be sure of being able to support their families, and when they’ve been screwed by their employer, they shouldn’t be expected to *immediately* screw themselves too. But don’t be surprised to see more leaving.
There were similar comments on Twitter. These comments were often combined with statements my position wasn’t valid because I have made some money selling my business.
As just one example, David Carnoy, Executive Editor at CNET, says:
@arrington In your post about @CNET you neglected to disclose $$$ you made from selling out to AOL. Easy to walk when you had your BIG EXIT.
And finally, some people have said that it’s only reasonable for people to resign if they have another job lined up.
Hunter Walk, in a comment to the original post, says:
Let’s see other journalists stand with their brethren and start a “free the CNET staffers” fund that can be tapped by any CNET journalist who wants to walk away but needs the money to do so. Mike, I’ll match up to the first $500 of your contribution
I think some of these are valid points and worth exploring.
First, sure it’s easy for me to say they should just quit their jobs when I’m not the one doing it and I may have more financial security than most or all of them. If I worked at CNET, had a family to take care of and had little financial breathing room I cannot say for certain that I’d resign. My family would certainly come first (and second, and third). It’s a fair point.
Second, I agree that it would certainly be easier for CNET people to resign if they knew that they had another job waiting for them.
Still, I think there are some profound issues to think through that drive to the core of what it means to be a journalist, and these issues are worth exploring.
What does it mean to be a journalist? If I have bias here, it isn’t in net worth. It’s that I don’t respect what I’ve called the Priesthood of Journalism. Journalists hold themselves apart, and above, the common person. They have rules designed to ensure their objectivity and impartiality.
Among those rules – “Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.”
it doesn’t say “unless you report to them,” or “unless you might lose your job.”
No, journalists hold themselves to a higher standard. Situations like CNET are exactly what journalists are supposed to fight. That’s why we entrust them as the fourth estate.
Is the pushback here because we’re just talking about tech press and not real press? What if someone at the New York Times was under express orders not to write about a political or financial scandal? Would we say it’s ok if they were at risk of losing their job and maybe not being able to pay their mortgage? Hell no, we’d consider that reporter as part of the overall conspiracy. “Just following orders” doesn’t cut it there, and the tech press should hold themselves to those same standards.
Journalists are supposed to put the people first, even before themselves. Around the world and throughout history journalists have died to get the truth out. We’re not talking about losing a job and having trouble paying the bills. We’re talking about things like having your head removed from your body.
Of course covering the latest tech gadgets isn’t quite the same thing as covering a bloody civil war. It’s not as important, or dangerous. But there is still quite clearly a principle at stake here. If a tech journalist needs financial security before doing what their conscience dictates, I’m not sure they should be calling themselves journalists at all.
Would it be ok for a CNET reporter to take a bribe to cover or not cover a certain product? Or what if CBS said “in appreciation of you not leaving after this debacle we want to give you all a 10% spot bonus.” Would that be ok? But what if they really need that bribe or spot bonus? What if they have a sick kid and can’t pay the hospital bills? Is it ok then?
To me, every paycheck a CNET reporter receives from here on out is just a bribe. A bribe that they are accepting in exchange for putting up with CBS telling them what they can and cannot say. By staying they are making it easier for companies to do evil in the future.
“It comes down to *why* we do this job. Do we have a burning passion to report the truth, or simply a desire to eat?” – Lee Hutchinson
So to end this I’ll say this. I don’t think CNET reporters are bad people for not quitting, and I quite understand that some of them may not be in any kind of financial position to even consider it. But as this crisis passes, perhaps those that couldn’t make that hard decision should consider if, over the long run, they should continue to call themselves journalists. Perhaps a new line of work, one where the public isn’t relying on them, is a better choice.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
If you’ve ever wondered why birthers, inside jobbers, and other conspiracy theorists won’t simply take the truth at face value, two researchers at OSU have found that we tend to ignore – and reject – instant corrections to data.
The study, performed by R. Kelly Garrett and Brian Weeks, examined what happens when untruthful information is immediately corrected in a news story. While some programs claim to call out false information automatically, such systems make users “more resistant to factual information.” That’s right: the more truth we read, the more we tend to believe strongly-held lies.
“Humans aren’t vessels into which you can just pour accurate information,” said Garrett. “Correcting misperceptions is really a persuasion task. You have to convince people that, while there are competing claims, one claim is clearly more accurate.”
The scientists gave participants one of three pages of information about electronic health records (EHRs), a potentially divisive topic for some. One page showed false information and “inaccurate statements were italicized, enclosed in brackets and displayed in red, and a detailed correction appeared at the bottom of the page.” Others read a post with errors, were given a three-minute task, and then shown the corrections. Finally, others were given the page with false information intact.
Later, the researchers asked “how easy or difficult it would be for several groups (including hospital administrators, government officials and others) to access electronic health records.” Those who supported EHRs tended to get higher scores on the test while those who were opposed to EHRs answered as if they hadn’t been corrected at all. In short, the corrections made no impact on their opinion and later accuracy of information.
To extrapolate, if you’re a supporter of President Obama (or any figure, really), corrections to inaccurate information would change your recall of that information. If you’re against him, the corrections wouldn’t matter. The bottom line?
“We would anticipate that systems like Dispute Finder would do little to change the beliefs of the roughly one in six Americans who, despite exhaustive news coverage and fact checking, continue to question whether President Obama was born in the U.S.,” said Garrett.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
First Amendment protections are a solemn oath designed to preserve a functioning democracy; they in no way logically extend to protecting the capacity to inflict harm on vulnerable citizens for mere amusement. For good reason, New York City Councilman Peter Vallone is considering criminal charges against Hurricane Sandy prankster Shashank Tripathi who spread malicious rumors about power outages over Twitter (under the handle, @ComfortablySmug).
While some argue that being a jackass isn’t illegal, since the Constitution’s inception, courts have held that all rights carry the burden of caring for our fellow man. Thomas Jefferson himself said that citizens have “no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”
During the height of chaos, Tripathi tweeted widely spread rumors about blackouts.
During a storm, scared citizens act erratically, and could have made life-threatening decisions based on the fact that there would be no power. Tripathi, to his credit, apologized and resigned as Congressional candidate Christopher Wright’s campaign manager. “During a natural disaster that threatened the entire city, I made a series of irresponsible and inaccurate tweets.” Still Vallone worries that without legal punishment, less responsible jackasses with a smartphone will repeat rumors for attention. “I think the consideration of criminal charges will assure this kind of stuff doesn’t happen again,” he told Buzzfeed.
The case against criminal charges was well-argued by TechDirt founder Mike Masnick in the beautifully titled, “Being A Jackass On Twitter Shouldn’t Be Illegal; Public Shame Should Be Enough.” Masnick argues that public shaming has clearly worked, and that legal action would snowball into unnecessary censorship.
Yet, the public shaming case doesn’t acknowledge when there should be limits on free speech. For nearly a century, the Supreme Court has held that citizens who shout “fire!” in a crowded theater are responsible for the deaths caused by the ensuing stampede.
The same holds true for “public hoaxes,” like when in 1919, a negligent reading of H.G Wells’ War of the Worlds, led New Yorkers into mass panic over a fake alien invasion. “Families rushed out of their homes, traffic jams clogged the streets, church services were disrupted, and chaos ensued,” writes lawyer and radio producer, Justin Levine. “Hospitals treated people for shock and hysteria, while police switchboards were so swamped with calls that they could not conduct regular business.”
The Federal Communication Commission again upheld the rule when a radio announcer caused panic after imitating an official warning of a nuclear attack during the first Gulf War.
The case against public shaming is that, during a crisis, Twitter isn’t a magical marketplace of ideas, where citizens are given sufficient time to weigh competing claims and come to a reasonable conclusion. Adrenalin is pumping, there’s not enough time for credible sources to sniff out the truth, and people get hurt.
For those worried about snowballing censorship, constitutional law expert Richard Delgado provides a nice legal bright line, saying that unprotected utterances “invite no discourse, and no speech in response can cure the inflicted harm.” By the time New Yorkers knew the truth, faint counter-whispers against the rumor on Twitter may have been too late to make up for the harm done.
Twitter is a powerful tool of free speech, but thinking that social media is an oasis of truth is a fantasy. We live in a society, and our actions can hurt. It belittles the First Amendment to confuse the solemn obligation of enlightened discourse with the capacity to cause panic for mere amusement.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Lying’s a lot harder than it used to be. Examples — Boss: “Where are you?” Employee: “On my way to the office.” Boss: “Show me.” ||| Mom: “Where are you?” Son: “At Jimmy’s house” Mom: “Show me.”
With geo-coded messages, you have to be where you say you are. Whether it’s a parent, employer, or spouse, anyone with a little power over you can demand you verify your location.
Sometimes you’re running late. Sometimes you aren’t where you’re supposed to be. You might be still in bed when your boss calls, or a kid could be biking through the night with their little hooligan buddies when they were supposed to be safe asleep at a friend’s house.
But until recently, the only thing someone had to go on was your word. They asked you over a voice call where you were, you told a little white lie, and then rushed to be where you said you were before they found out.
Now, someone could request a screenshot of your blue dot on your mobile map. Or that you send a geo-coded Facebook message that shows your current location. Hell, they could force you into a video call and request you to show the traffic you’re supposedly stuck in, or the house you’re supposed to be at.
Even if not demanded, this information is now getting passively transmitted, sometimes by default. A friend and I were exchanging geo-coded Facebook Messages the other day when he asked if we were still on for a meeting I was late to. For a split second I wanted to say I was already en route. Not true. Still lacing up my shoes.
So I told the truth, “Hey, sorry I got a late start but I’m still at my house. About to leave.”
If you don’t think it’s happening now, ask some savvy parents or people with suspicious spouses. It will only get more common if data-as-SMS protocols like iMessage gain geo-coding capabilities, which have plenty of consensual use cases
Taken to the extreme, that might mean we can’t hide from Big Brother governments. But in our personal lives, the ability for others to technologically verify the truth will persuade us to tell it more often.
Like it or loathe it, this is a new social contract we’ll have to adapt to.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch