If you recall my last entry, I criticized Twitter for not supporting a positive user experience and failing to enforce their Terms of Service (TOS). Twitter has responded to the critical feedback, but their feedback is passive and weak to say the least.
First, I want us to take a look at the power of one person, one user, one consumer. Ariel Waldman’s experience was posted on Twitter, then the blogs, then Digg, then more blogs, then more news sites, then Wired. This is another example of when the Web bites back, when a company performs a disservice to a customer. All that within 12 hours, no less!
Twitter stands firmly by their position, citing their service is simply a service, not a content or community:
Some people think we should ban one person if another person is unhappy with the content—or more specifically, if they personally define that content as “harrassment.” In the case being discussed, we didn’t perceive a violation of our Terms after a careful review.
[Via Twitter Blog]
I do see their point — they want to maintain their hands-off approach, but I stand firm that examples like this moments when heiring on the side of the ‘victim’ is appropriate.I also disagree, Twitter is a community (now).
Biz Stone rebuttles in his Twitter feed with the point that harassment is a very subjective, ambiguous and sensitive subject to moderate.
(Side Note: I don’t really like Biz’s tone, he’s too defensive, but that’s beside the point…)
No, Biz, if I call you an offensive name repeatedly with malicious intent, I deserve to have my account terminated. Harassment is not all that difficult to enforce. Allow me to help you, Twitter, since that blog entry was merely a cry for help, than actually supporting your growing community.
Here is what you should do to make good from this mess:
- Terminate all accounts accessed by Ariel’s harasser, via reverse-IP lookup.
- Apologize to Ariel for your lack of action and commit to a changing stance that supports the best interests of all Twitter users.
- Modify the TOS with the following:
- Much more detail, but not legalese.
- Detail examples of what is generally acceptable and unacceptable.
- Detail the process for users to report abusive activity.
- Detail the expectations for a victim to expect after submitting an abuse report.
- Implement a warning system. It’s reasonable to do “Three Strikes, You’re Out” and place the IP on a 72-hour IP ban.
- Implement a system for banned users to request an appeal (a second review).
- Communicate about the changes you’ve made, be supportive of user feedback and shoot for the best user experience.
- Hire a dedicated resource to handle all high-level abuse concerns. (Subsequently, a budget for them to manage a team of folks for them to delegate to.)
Now is it possible that you might delete a user’s account in error? Sure, but if you just unpublish an account instead of deleting, you will be able to restore it in the event of an appeal. The process of the “appeal,” is inherently customer service, even if it’s not all that pretty or rests in a JSON API.
On a different note, Ariel Waldman posted an update and a clarification on her intent with talking about it. She was pointing out the lack of community management at Twitter HQ. For this, I will agree with her.
One of the problems when pitting online community up against the notations of a Web Application or Service is the battle line. Who wins? The users or the network diagram? Personally, to me at least, the users should have more bias over the network.
[Update on Twitter’s Response via Techmeme]