Twitter Still Can’t Get Security Right

Karen Geier
5 min readJan 5, 2017

Over the Christmas break, multiple stories in the news broke about how there was a new wave of people who are spreading a very dumb idea: “White Genocide” as a justification for their alt-right (White Supremacist) views.

There is nothing on this earth that is quite as dumb or as malicious as a White Supremacist, and while they have grown in number and strength in the past 4 years on Twitter, Twitter has done next to nothing about it.

There is a difference between an opinion (“I don’t like mint chip ice cream”) and “being a fucking Nazi.” (“White Genocide is real and that’s why the police need to kill black people.”)

Yes, whole language is hard to suss out because Twitter is a place where irony runs rampant and even burger chains sometimes tweet out white supremacist memes “by accident,” but that’s why Twitter has a “Security team,” right?

Well, Over the last 2 years, the security team have deemed the following types of tweets “not in violation” of their rules:

  • Gendered insults (you’re a cunt, etc.)
  • Rape threats
  • Violent threats
  • Threats to come to Toronto to “have a chat” with me
  • Anti-semitic tweets (for example: “Admit you’re Jewish” “Dirty Jew Journalist” etc. (I’m not Jewish and don’t consider myself a “journalist,” but this is immaterial. The intent is these people are issuing antisemitic threats against a person with a surname that is Jewish in origin.)
  • A z-list comedian called me a “pedophile” because I don’t believe in Pizzagate
  • Various threats on the level of “you can be gotten to.”

I don’t take this shit lightly. I’ve been assaulted before. I know women who have been stalked and assaulted. These are credible threats that Twitter should take into consideration.

I probably sent out about 1–200 tweets to white supremacists who were deluging my account because of a Tweet I made that went viral:

You can see some of the boneheads in the @ mentions, but a lot of the hatred I received was down to White Supremacists doing what they do best: swarming people they don’t agree with.

I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter defending friends against this type of thing too. These people are very agitated, very stupid, and get offended at the dumbest things.

So, they do the one thing they know how: They report your tweets to Twitter.

Here’s one I was asked to delete from Twitter because it was a “Violation of the Twitter Rules”

Clearly, this is “targeted harassment.”

During the Christmas break, I noticed that there were some media types who were buying in deeply to the “White Genocide” trope and one of them, Harlan Hill, was having some tit-for-tat with friends of mine because of this tweet:

One of them mentioned that Harlan’s DMs were open, so I sent him this:

Harlan took a screen cap of this DM and tried to sicc his followers on me. I replied with a joke (Twitter has since asked me to remove it. You can see it below)

Instead of blocking me, Harlan turned his “fans” on me (and The Guardian, and Huffington Post)

and for 3 days, I had every kind of harassment and abuse hurled at me.

That’s actually targeted harassment. Not only is he trying to melt down my mentions, he was trying to get me fired from 2 places he assumed were my full time employers.

Harlan’s account is still active. He saw no repercussions from sending his internet shit brigade at me for making fun of his looks.

My account has been suspended as a result of defending myself, and will remain locked for the remainder of the day, because Twitter believes I am a harasser.

Forget the fact Harlan was engaging in targeted harassment, forget the fact that he was defending White Supremacists in their ideas that a joke about the very non-existent idea of White Genocide. I’m the harasser for telling someone to “kiss my tits.”

Twitter has the wrong end of the abuse stick.

I am asking Twitter to reveal what the gender and racial backgrounds are of the security team tasked with triaging threats and speech.

Twitter claims to be “free speech purists” but have locked my account for a tweet saying “Kiss my tits” while this one was not deemed a violation:

It’s immediately clear to non-white, non-male account holders without Twitter disclosing this information who is actually staffed in the Security Desk mines.

Of nearly 1000 reports I’ve filed for actual, credible violations (including death threats, rape threats, anti-semitism, actionable speech, etc, a dozen have resulted in accounts being locked or permanently suspended.

Twitter has a problem with White Supremacy and it has a problem protecting women.

Men’s Rights Activists, White Supremacists, conspiracy nuts and just general all-around shitheads get the green light, while women and non whites who are merely asking to not have people tell us every day that we’re a “cunt” (or worse”) get nothing.

Twitter’s own Jack Dorsey asked people over the holiday to contribute ideas for how to improve Twitter:

Because I’m a longtime recipient of abuse, I replied with some thoughts of my own:

Not surprisingly, I wasn’t the only woman who replied in such a fashion, or even to suggest Twitter hire victims of abuse to help craft policy. We were all ignored.

The only people who received replies were men who had ideas about how to change the UX.

This is why Twitter is losing staff. This is why Twitter can’t get a buyer, and is having trouble raising rounds.

This is why people tell me every day “I don’t know how you stand the barrage of abuse you get on there”.

I actually love using Twitter and use it despite this constant barrage of abuse hurled at me, because it enables me to communicate with some people I really, really love. It also allows me to make jokes and share dog photos. I also enjoy tweeting about bread quite a bit.

I don’t want to leave Twitter, but if Twitter sides with White Supremacists and doesn’t understand that defending yourself against abuse is the only vestige most women have on the platform that won’t intervene on their behalf, I may be forced to leave, or forced to either by necessity or because they choose to maintain the lock on my account.

If you’ve had similar experiences with harassment on Twitter and would like to do something about it, I urge you to share this post on Medium and Twitter and maybe even tell Jack Dorsey that you’re not very impressed with this wrongheaded approach to security.

Fix your shit. Sorry about the language. Please don’t suspend my Medium account for harassment.



Karen Geier

Writer & Content Strategist. Bylines in @Guardian @SeriousEats @GlobalNews @HuffingtonPost @Splitsider @TheIBang