Twitter Needs to Get the Trolls Under Control

Twitter has turned into a cesspool of nasty comments by people who failed to understand context, according to British comedian Stephen Fry. His objection to the service points to more serious problem which prevents it from keeping its users and attracting others to the service.

Twitter recently lost Stephen Fry who decided that he should leave the platform for the fourth time since 2009 after being on the receiving end of a nasty backlash following his on stage joke at the 2016 BAFTA.

The comedian had referred to BAFTA winner and Mad Max costume designer Jenny Beavan as a bag lady for what she wore to the event. Though the audience at the awards show laughed at her expense, the crowd on Twitter wasn’t so understanding, launching a tirade calling Fry to apologize for his seemingly insensitive comment. Fry, however, defended himself saying that Beavan is a dear friend and she “got the joke”, and posted a photo together at the ceremony.

The BBC had listed a handful of other celebrities who have quit Twitter after being abused or getting overly disparaging remarks including Kanye West, Chris Brown, Lena Dunham, and Adele, all of whom have returned to the site since. Simon Pegg is another actor who has left Twitter and although his account remains active, it’s being run by his team instead.

In leaving Twitter, Fry said this on his blog, “Think of it as not much more than leaving a room. I like to believe I haven’t slammed the door, much less stalked off in a huff throwing my toys out of the pram as I go or however one should phrase it. It’s quite simple really: the room had started to smell. Really quite bad”.

A stalking ground for the self righteous
In Fry’s words, Twitter is now, “a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended — worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know.”

The situation is so bad that he said, “it makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view. I’ve heard people shriek their secularism in such a way as to make me want instantly to become an evangelical Christian”.

And this is the crux of the problem for Twitter. Whether people return from self imposed exiles, Twitter is no longer the super happy fun place for friends that it once was. The ability to lob unfiltered remarks with little consequences has pushed many people off the platform and turned others away from joining.

Not an attractive place
People are on social media to have fun, be informed, and be entertained. Twitter, at least in Indonesia, where Jakarta was named the Twitter capital of the world in 2012, is better known as the place for news, debates, and politics. As a result, it attracts the more serious, older crowd and those looking to stay up to date regardless.

The younger crowd and those after more entertainment, casual updates, and catching up with close friends, are more likely to go elsewhere such as Path, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, as well as messaging apps Line, WhatsApp, and BBM.

Twitter is working really hard to reverse this trend and it is adding and changing a significant number features to ensure that it remains an exciting an attractive online destination for everyone. Among the changes include the ability to search and post GIF animations, send video messages in DM, publish polls, embed Periscope live streams, introducing an algorithm to show the best tweets of the day, and the creation of a global Trust and Safety Council to make Twitter a safer place for everyone to voice their thoughts.

The big problem with Twitter is the trolls or hit and run commenters making the place unpleasant for everyone concerned. Unfortunately until today, the company has yet to implement an effective way to keep them in check but this entire post right here is a good start.

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