How Twitter Plans To Battle “Horrifying” Hate Speech While Encouraging Freedom

Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo spoke to the Financial Times about the hate speech and trolls that have become so prevalent on the social network, explaining how the company plans to fight back while remaining a haven for those seeking freedom of expression.

Costolo spoke about possible new measures the company might take to eliminate hate speech, including hiding replies from users without a bio, picture or any followers.

However, he says the company will not get rid of allowing pseudonyms as usernames – a feature that separates it from Facebook – as they protect free speech:

“The reason we want to allow pseudonyms is there are lots of places in the world where it’s the only way you’d be able to speak freely.

The flipside of that is it also emboldens these trolls… how do you make sure you are both emboldening people to speak politically but making it okay to be on the platform and not endure all this hate speech? It’s very frustrating.”

Censoring the tweets of users with a small number of followers and no bio information marks a shift in Twitter’s approach to how it handles the flow of information. Previously, the company had been very hands-off in terms of censorship.

The practicality of blocking replies from “non-authoritative” accounts is questionable. It might stop some spammers and trolls from spreading hate speech, but those determined to bully others will no doubt find a way around Twitter’s measures, such as creating a network of fake accounts to follow each other and boost each one’s authority.

Still, Twitter’s focus on cleaning up the fake, hateful and spammy accounts that are part of its ecosystem is a welcome step towards improving the network’s credibility.

(No bullying image via Shutterstock)