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Posted on May 23, 2008

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Wow, totally did not expect today to be as overwhelming as it was. There are a lot of things being thrown around, some valid and others completely nonsensical, so I’d like to clear a few of them up (hoping to be less long-winded than my last post).

Twitter did respond, twice on Get Satisfaction, first here and then here. The general reaction seems mixed with some people satisfied by Twitter’s response while others are not. A lot of the friction seems to be around how Twitter should be perceived. A decent portion of Twitter users see the service as a community (similar to Flickr), while Twitter chooses to view themselves as a “communication utility” (similar to AT&T). But ultimately, this is an issue of accountability. And Twitter’s strategy of revising their Terms of Service rather than living up to the agreements they made with users is troubling.

To be clear, it wasn’t my intention to bring a mob with pitchforks to Twitter’s door. I don’t believe in mob-rule and again, I like Twitter and the people who work there.

It was my intention to speak out about a community management issue and to focus on the decisions a company made. I did not write this to “cry”, “whine”, or be “insecure” about being called a “c—“. To put it bluntly, I’m not and I certainly don’t let things like this ruin my day. I feel like it’s a prerequisite for any blogger or person who puts themselves “out there” to have a thick skin. Yes, the reality of the internet is dealing with these issues – Violet Blue has a great post called “Every girl online is fat, ugly and unsexy. Here’s how to get over it“. If I didn’t feel like I could “deal” with these issues, I wouldn’t be involved in any of the things I am.

The issue *is* about the decisions that were made and answers I was given directly from Twitter. It didn’t seem like they had a process or policy to their TOS and did not handle it as well as other services had. Overall, it came off as inexperience with community management issues.

Admittedly, a couple of Ev’s tweets were off-putting, but this was a rough day and I don’t think that anyone was very happy by the end of it. I feel that some of his frustration may be from the fact that a number of people (both publicly and privately) told me cases where Twitter had banned a user for more extreme violations. In my post, I outline that in my phone conversation with Jack:

I asked Jack if Twitter had ever dealt with stalkers or banning people before and he told me they never had.

It was pretty clear in conversation and I remember being shocked about that fact afterwards. Neither here nor there, it seems to be a miscommunication, and I’m glad people are sharing their different experiences with me.

This has generated SO many opinions, and I very much appreciate the critical and supportive sides to this. It’s extremely inspiring that people feel as passionately about these topics as I do, whether or not they agree with me or Twitter.

So, I’m not quite sure yet where this leaves everything. As stated earlier, it seems to come down to a disagreement over how some people view Twitter and how they view themselves.

(Note: I turned comments off on the last blog post, because after 276 comments and your own mother finally chiming in at the end, there’s probably little else to say that hasn’t already been said). (Comments are now closed on this post as well).

Update: Copying and pasting from my last post for those not wanting to click-through: This is already disclosed in the about section of this blog already, but I am stating it again here at the request of others: I am the community manager for Pownce, however, this issue started before I was working at Pownce. The opinions stated here do not reflect my clients/employers and I did *not* write this in the interest of them. It is well known that I am not a Twitter-hater (much the opposite).

59 Comments

  1. not my name
    May 26, 2008

    my response was aimed at a few of the commentators (prok, et al, and the SILLY Twitter responses on various sites which seem to misconstrue the situation and compare apples to oranges. you can PUBLISH over a network but a network is not a public meeting and publishing platform > it is just one thing you can do with a communications network… just one thing. Silly silly people :))

    I support Ariel, after digging further and seeing many of the original postings. It IS tiring after dealing for years with this kind of harrassment, I know that first hand – just the bit I saw was already way over the line and I wouldn’t doubt the story there’s more, spread over many sites – seen the MO before, its a really common one. I’ve had it before at another site years ago, and I can completely sympathise (hence I don’t use a name here – sorry but I dont want it happening again!). And it can blow up in a terrible way, so take care of yourself and looking into seeking those restraining orders if you have to. Better safe than sorry. :)

  2. NJ
    May 26, 2008

    Memo to Ariel:

    Get a life, girl!

    You claim to report on, among other things, sex, and then you get your panties in a wad over being called a cunt? Wow. Just Wow.

    Frankly, I would have never thought that anyone who has experienced puberty would be on Twitter in the first place, much less getting her bowels in an uproar over some wordy dird some other child said.

  3. Ehud Gavron
    May 26, 2008

    “Wrong and right” are not black and white. No — wait, yeah they are. YOU ARE RIGHT. You do not deserve to be harassed on the Internet nor does someone need to provide a forum for tha harassment. Best of luck to you in regaining your right to unobstructed free expression.

  4. Ixian
    May 27, 2008

    Having taken a long weekend and disconnecting myself from the net I’ve come to this a little late. Having seen the whole series of events before commenting, I have to say that Twitter acted in a very disappointing manner at best, and they’ve likely lost a lot of people who were considering using it till this happened. Secondly, pretty much everyone who has comments like NJ up above me or advocated just quitting twitter apparently are brain dead or something. Anyone with a company online or even a recognized presence online must take every bit of name calling and whatnot much more seriously since, in the end, these things can affect their ability to make money if left unattended. Frankly even if the person being attacked in this way does nothing in life that could be affected by someone wrecking the google results for their name, why on Earth should people have to put up with this crap simply because it’s the “internet?” Does being online suddenly mean you should have to be open to people being complete jackasses, and does it suddenly excuse behavior that is inexcusable in the physical world? Behavior that civilized and mature societies do not allow and even have some laws that apply?

    NJ, does being online really give a person the right to mentally and socially regress into a personality unfit for any civilized interaction? It boggles the mind to even think that something initially made to help science should instead be a reason to take some steps back on social evolution.

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