Twitter effectively accepts that it is a publisher and responsible for content

I have no doubt in my mind that social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are – in fact – publishers. They benefit from the advertising revenues raised on the back of their “reach” and must be responsible – and accountable – for the content they publish.

The abuse of a number of women on Twitter in the UK has now led the head of Twitter UK to personally apologise and for Twitter to now take a number of steps to prevent this kind of abuse. It is a tacit admission of responsibility for their content and completely undermines their previous stand that they are not a publisher. Even though Twitter is “requesting” its users to exercise restraint, their “commitment” makes it clear that Twitter is taking responsibility – even if only implicitly – for ensuring that their users exercise the proper restraint.

A well deserved pat on the back for Twitter (assuming they don’t back away from this commitment and later try to pin the blame on irresponsible users).

Tony Wang apology (Twitter UK)

Tony Wang apology (Twitter UK)

BBCThe boss of Twitter UK has said sorry to women who have experienced abuse on the social networking site. Tony Wang said the threats were “simply not acceptable” and pledged to do more to tackle abusive behaviour.

The apology came as Twitter updated its rules and confirmed it would introduce an in-tweet “report abuse” button on all platforms, including desktops. Police are investigating eight allegations of abuse including bomb and rape threats made against women.

Two people have been arrested in relation to Twitter rape threats against Labour MP Stella Creasy and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who received the threats after a campaign to have Jane Austen on the new £10 note.

Three female journalists said they were subjected to bomb threats on the site.

The revelations sparked a backlash online, with a petition calling for Twitter to add a “report abuse” button to tweets attracting more than 124,000 signatures. In a series of tweets, Twitter UK general manager Mr Wang said: 

  • “I personally apologize to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through. The abuse they’ve received is simply not acceptable”.
  • “It’s not acceptable in the real world, and it’s not acceptable on Twitter”.
  • “There is more we can and will be doing to protect our users against abuse. That is our commitment.”

In an earlier message posted on its blog, Twitter’s senior director for trust and safety Del Harvey and Mr Wang said the company had clarified its anti-harassment policy in light of feedback from customers.

They said: “It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter.”

The company has clarified its guidance on abuse and spam – reiterating that users “may not engage in targeted abuse or harassment”.

The “report abuse” button already available on the iOS Twitter app and mobile site will also be rolled out to the main website and Android app from September, Twitter said.

Ms Harvey and Mr Wang wrote in their blog: “We want people to feel safe on Twitter, and we want the Twitter rules to send a clear message to anyone who thought that such behaviour was, or could ever be, acceptable.”
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2 Responses to “Twitter effectively accepts that it is a publisher and responsible for content”

  1. midya Says:

    Good post. Nice use of quotes. Should I hold my breath for Wang to apologize to Andrew Breitbart, George Zimmerman, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and well, George W. Bush for all of the abuse they have taken on his site. That would be true justice.

  2. midya Says:

    Reblogged this on Midya's Weblog and commented:
    Good post. Nice use of quotes. Should I hold my breath for Wang to apologize to Andrew Breitbart, George Zimmerman, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and well, George W. Bush for all of the abuse they have taken on his site. That would be true justice.

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