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.