Twitter doesn’t appear to have gotten off to a great start in 2016, with the stock value having dropped to a former shadow of what it used to be a couple years ago and enduring a mass exodus of sorts where top-talent is concerned. For Twitter, the problem seems to be how to make any real money out of the network, but they’ve long had bigger fish to fry. Online abuse was a big focus of the media throughout 2015, and while Facebook and online networks have provided trolls and bullies a platform as well, Twitter is often known as the bigger problem. It’s arguably a lot easier to choose an anonymous username and start spouting abuse – publicly – on Twitter than it is anywhere else. Now, Twitter is doing something about it.
The last two years saw Twitter make some changes to how easy it is to report abuse and block users, but today they’re introducing the Twitter Trust & Safety Council. The inaugural council includes more than 40 different organizations from around the world that Twitter will use to “ensure that people feel safe expressing themselves on Twitter.” In a blog post written by Patricia Cartes, Head of Global Policy Outreach, Twitter outlines what the new council will do; “tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues more efficiently and quickly.” It’s unclear just how much influence the individual members of the Trust and Security Council will have over decisions made by Twitter, and as of right now the official council page appears to be more of a link fest to Twitter profiles across the 13 regions than anything else.
Regardless, this is a more a show of effort than anything else, Twitter needs to be seen doing something about online abuse, and if anything this move should hold Twitter themselves more accountable. Having a central place for users affected by such abuse to find expert help and advice will be a big help, too. This new initiative will presumably cause Twitter to be extra-vigilant over the next few weeks to show that the new council is working, but whether or not online abuse decreases throughout the year will be the year test for Twitter and their new council.