Twitter has been known to uphold its ‘free expression’ value on the network, despite numerous cases of abuse and cyber bullying throughout the years. However, the company has also tried to address the ever-emerging phenomenon. Just last year, the social network added a ‘report abuse’ button to answer public demands of a stricter policy to protect users, but clearly it’s not enough.
Shortly after the shocking passing of famous comedian actor Robin Williams, his daughter, Zelda Williams, was made a target for bullies over his father’s death. Millions of twitter users vented their anger toward her, blaming her for what had happened to the legend.
As Washington Post reported, Williams, 25, said she could not bear the messages and would stay off of Twitter and Instagram for “a good long time.” She also asked her social network followers to petition the company to block two particular accounts that were responsible for the bulk of the abuse. Those accounts have since been removed by Twitter.
In light of the incident, the company said that it will be updating its policies. “We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter,” Del Harvey, Twitter’s vice president of trust and safety, said in a statement. “We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one. This includes expanding our policies regarding self-harm and private information, and improving support for family members of deceased users.”
Many view Twitter’s statement on Wednesday as weak and far from what we can call a solution. Zelda Williams’ unfortunate case is just one in a million. There are other users experiencing the similar situations, and not being able to get their deserved peace over the network, even after they make use of the ‘report abuse’ or ‘block user’ features. The Verge stated that it’s not a clear promise that meaningful results will come, just a recognition that something needs to happen.
Still, at least we should trust Twitter on this one. Though little might change, some lights have been shed and hopefully we’ll be able to actually see significant changes where users can do more about harassment and abuse they constantly receive and have them dealt with. Twitter surely doesn’t want to have more of its high-profile clients walking away, does it?