For a lot of business users, Twitter can be a useful way to engage with customers and peers. For a lot of celebrities, it’s a way to interact directly with fans. For countless Internet trolls however, it’s a way to hide their identity so they can harass and threaten people online… and get away with it.
Twitter harassment is a huge problem. It’s so bad, in fact, that it led Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones to leave the platform for an undetermined amount of time. Jones received hundreds of racist and sexist comments. She even received death threats for having the audacity to be a black woman in a popular movie.
Twitter, unfortunately, has utterly failed at every turn to do anything about the problem. Initially, they took a very hands-off approach to harassment. But that approach has proven both useless and cowardly. The company later tried to trot out some token technological attempts to reduce harassment, but those attempts failed.
The problem has gotten so out of hand that it’s harming the company. For one, many users, both high profile and otherwise, abandoned the service because they didn’t feel safe there. One element of the harassment problem is that it’s way too easy for trolls to create new accounts and harass someone who has previously blocked them.
The issue is costing Twitter money, because that’s less people who can be targeted with ads and sponsored tweets. To make matters worse, it’s now preventing them from making business deals.
Several companies (particularly Disney) have expressed interest in purchasing the platform. But Disney balked at the purchase not because of the price, but because they didn’t want their image as a family-friendly company to be tarnished by owning a social media platform that is a breeding ground for cyber bullying.
Twitter will likely continue to have issues selling the platform until they address their problem with harassment.