Posted on May 22, 2008 | 276 Comments


Update 3: Please see my follow-up post about Twitter’s response.
I started using Twitter in March 2007, just before their SXSW explosion. Not surprisingly, I instantly became addicted and since then have used the service for everything from personal to professional.

Overall, Twitter is a great platform to connect with friends and co-workers and it felt safe in an “everyone knows everyone” sort of way in the beginning. However, as with any social network that continues to grow (especially one that focuses on broadcasting messages to the masses), it opens itself up to the prospect of abuse, harassment, spam, and other types of typical Terms of Service violations. Considering the social network-sphere as it exists today, most people would assume that Twitter would be prepared to react and take action against TOS violations – their TOS page even states “(These terms of service were inspired, with permission, by Flickr.)” – Flickr being well-known for taking action on TOS violations, even when the violations are debatable.

As I found out last month, the reality of Twitter is that they refuse to warn and/or ban people who use their service to “abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users” (to quote their fourth line item on their TOS page). What does this mean? In short, anyone can use Twitter to consistently harass you and ruin search results for your identity and Twitter won’t execute any means of community management.

In June 2007, I unfortunately found myself on the receiving end of multiple accounts of harassment from a user on Twitter. When the user started using my full name in their harassing tweets, I reported the harassment as a form of cyberbullying to Twitter’s community manager and received a response that let me know they cared about the situation:

“[We] have decided, as a preemptive measure, to remove [the user’s] updates from the public timeline. … If you have anymore problems with [this user], please let us know right away, we’re here to help :)”

The harassment continued throughout the course of 2007. Since Twitter and I had an open dialog started, I would periodically report cases of continuing harassment (some of which spread between Flickr and Twitter). Twitter would take no action while Flickr would immediately ban and remove all traces of the harassment.

Unfortunately, in 2008 it escalated to a level that could no longer be ignored. Tweets were being fired off directly calling me a “cunt” amongst other harassing language. On March 14, I wrote to Twitter, giving the example URLs of abuse and stated to them clearly:

“Since this is an ongoing case and due to the nature of the content, I think this person is clearly violating Twitter’s TOS and I find it necessary for Twitter to uphold to this: “4. You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.” Honestly, I believe this harassment has gotten way out of hand for too long. I am writing to you and to Twitter to remove this user for consistent long-term harassment.”

Twitter responded after 3 days:

“Unfortunately, although [this user’s] behavior is admittedly mean, [s/he] isn’t necessarily doing anything against our terms of service. I’ve been following [their] profile since your first complaint to monitor [them], as well. We can’t remove [this user’s] profile or ban [this user’s] IP address; [they’re] not doing anything illegal.”

To which I replied (at which point, Jack, Twitter’s CEO was copied):

“I don’t believe this is a case of illegal activity – this is a clear case of harassment which is outlined in your TOS.

To be blunt, I find that someone using your service to call me a “cunt” in a public forum is defined as harassment.

Again, your TOS states:
“4. You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.”

It’s Twitter’s responsibility to uphold the TOS, otherwise the TOS has no meaning.”

At this point, Jack responded requesting a phone discussion about the issue. My notes from the phone call on March 19:

I told Jack that it the harassment has escalated and that it was a very clear violation of their TOS and that I had had similar cases of harassment on Flickr in which Flickr took down all 3 of the harassing accounts. I asked Jack if Twitter had ever dealt with stalkers or banning people before and he told me they never had. Jack explained that they’re scared to ban someone because they’re scared if it turned into a lawsuit that they are too small of a company to handle it.

Jack additionally explained that their TOS was up for interpretation, to which I responded that it isn’t. I explained that it clearly states “You must not harass other Twitter users” and that harassment is defined as continuous small attacks, which this is.

Jack then asked me about what other social networks had done. I said that Flickr deleted all the profiles and that services like Digg and Pownce don’t think twice about banning abusive or harassing users because it’s part of the TOS. (Note: Flickr is known for asking users to take down content and/or banning accounts that might even very loosely be *considered* as harassment, which, again, I find interesting, considering at the end of Twitter’s TOS, it states: “(These terms of service were inspired, with permission, by Flickr.)”).

Jack asked me what good it would do to ban my stalker since it seemed obvious that the stalker would continue to stalk me elsewhere. I told him that it was not his nor Twitter’s responsibility nor business to stop my stalker, but that it was very much their responsibility to identify users violating their TOS on their own service and take action accordingly.

At the end of the conversation, Jack asked me “well, what would be a happy resolution for you?”. I responded saying that seeing the user who is consistently harassing me banned. I told him that I totally support Twitter and want to see them do well and was trying to understand their fear of getting sued, so I said that at the “EXTREMELY least” that Twitter needed to send the user harassing me a warning, that Twitter didn’t owe the user any information other than the fact that they had been reported as violating their TOS and to cease or be banned. I very much stressed that Twitter needs to send users violating TOS a warning at the very least if they don’t ban. Jack then said he would need to talk to their lawyers about that and would get back to me by the end of the next week.

Jack didn’t get back to me until I emailed him on April 9 with 8 new instances of abuse that included my full name and email address, attached to words like “crack-whore” and “lesbian porn”, to which he emailed me back a response:


Apologies for the delay here. We’ve reviewed the matter and decided it’s not in our best interest to get involved. We’ve tasked our lawyers with a full review and update of our TOS.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and good luck with resolving the problem.


Thanks, Twitter. It’s great to know that your Terms of Service that you force everyone to agree to don’t mean anything.

Update: I’ve also started a topic on Get Satisfaction about the issue that also outlines how Twitter’s excuse of being sued holds no ground under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Update 2: 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).


  1. billso
    May 22, 2008

    Yikes. Not a good story. You’d think Twitter would have their act together by now… but they still make excuses for uptime, TOS, etc.

  2. Greg
    May 22, 2008

    very sad to hear that Twitter took such a nonchalant attitude toward this.

  3. Chuck Olsen
    May 22, 2008

    This is just plain unacceptable.

  4. MG Siegler
    May 22, 2008

    Interesting and troubling. I’ll be following this.

  5. m
    May 22, 2008

    that sucks. I am curious why their legal team advised against getting involved. It makes no sense. It’s clearly harassment. I used to product manage a social network and we took these things very seriously. Then again, we had a whole center in the Phillipines monitoring all this stuff. Twitter probably has no bandwidth. However, after all the correspondence you sent, they should have complied with your request. Too bad.

  6. Casey McKinnon
    May 22, 2008

    So wrong…

  7. Brad P. from NJ
    May 22, 2008

    Not good… not good… I have my own personal reasons for wanting to make sure that Twitter enforces that particular aspect of their TOS. I can only say that I hope Twitter gets their act together and starts enforcing their not-vague TOS.

  8. Michelle / chelpixie
    May 22, 2008

    They had to know that it couldn’t get them sued, otherwise flickr would have had lawsuits many times over by now by upholding their TOS.

    I can live with the downtime, this however, makes me stop and think.

  9. Ryan
    May 22, 2008

    How on earth would they get sued for enforcing a TOS the user in question agreed to? In fact, who would be dumb enough to sue Twitter for some imaginary “right” to use their service to harass?

    I can see not wanting to intercede out of laziness (imagine having to police the whole system of millions of users — that’s a full time job to be sure)… but blaming it on a fear of litigation sounds ridiculous to me.

  10. Steve Rhodes
    May 22, 2008

    Twitter should care more about someone harassing you than the remote possibility of a lawsuit (especially since flickr had delteted the accounts and not been sued).

  11. reechard
    May 22, 2008

    How horrible. And Twitter’s response shockingly deficient. Boo Twitter.

  12. sean percival
    May 22, 2008

    This remind me of a break up story, in these cases its usually “her side, his side, and somewhere in between the truth”.

    Would rather have the real backstory or have a link to the person, why hide their identity? Or is just some anonymous troll?

  13. Eddie / ekai
    May 22, 2008

    Sucks you had to go through all this, Ariel. I hope you get resolution.

  14. Brian / urbanbohemian
    May 22, 2008

    “in our best interest not to get involved?!”

    That’s just pure insanity and shows they didn’t think about their TOS when they posted it, instead wanting something in print to try and cover their ass.

  15. MC
    May 22, 2008

    Thanks for sharing this with everyone, Ariel, it’s pretty eye opening. This situation is ridiculous and upsetting. Sorry you’ve had to deal with it!

    I hope Twitter will actually start doing something about their TOS. Good luck with things, keep us posted on what happens.

  16. Maykel Loomans
    May 22, 2008

    A weird move on Twitter’s behalf I must say. The actual interesting part in this case is that companies (web and non-web) have been servicing their customers in an utmost helpful way. Look at things such as MS’s halo x360, they washed. The anti dell backlash. The digg revolt.. I’m wondering if the guys at twitter ever thought of a probable social backlash this could have.. Especially in cases like these it’s obvious that a social webbased backlash is much more of a liability than a legal one. What would happen if this got to pages like techcrunch, digg etc? I will follow this with great interest! Please tweet about it if there’s an update! I’ve got you on follow :) (oh, the irony!)

  17. Nathan
    May 22, 2008

    I think they came up with a brilliant solution: cause the service to go down. No twitter=no harassment. And here we thought it was a scalability issue.

  18. George Kelly / allaboutgeorge
    May 22, 2008

    What a drag. I wish you hadn’t had to go through all this. I hope it’s better really soon.

  19. giannii
    May 22, 2008

    Just wow…

  20. Mirko
    May 22, 2008

    I love Twitter, but this is exceedingly lame and unacceptable. Shame on them. :(

  21. Robert Chute
    May 22, 2008

    I hope that this post and others will force twitter to take more aggressive action.

  22. Leigh Ann D.
    May 22, 2008

    With all the other stalking/harassment cases in the social networking world I am very surprised that Twitter decided not to do anything about this. I wish you safety and luck!

  23. Katie Paine
    May 22, 2008

    I have to say that Twitter’s lack of response on this and other issues is unacceptable. How can a company that doesn’t listen to its customers survive? This is far worse than Twitter’s version of the Facebook/Beacon debacle.

  24. Mattie
    May 22, 2008

    This is very alarming. These kinds of situations happen on social networks quite often and most don’t even flinch when banning such obviously abusive users. The risk of being sued for a direct TOS violation is low, but not as low as some people may think. That being the case, I highly doubt the user would sue or would win that court case.

    It’s these kinds of cold receptions that can really be bad PR for a company. It would have been better for them to ban the user and deal with a possible law suit than the horrible PR this kind of situation can cause. In banning a user, the probability is much lower than in ignoring the situation (as Twitter has) and wiping their hands clean of their own TOS.

  25. Parky
    May 22, 2008

    You should sue Twitter for allowing it go on. Surely they are now, (and IANAL BTW) by *not* doing anything accessories after the fact or something?

  26. lynette {radio}
    May 22, 2008

    If you ‘copy’ Flickr’s TOS, and Flickr bans someone based on that TOS, don’t you think you should too? (since apparently Twitter is all about copying and not thinking for themselves) Very disappointing. If this happened to *ME*, I would be suing Twitter for not upholding the TOS. If they are so afraid of a lawsuit, maybe they should realize that the scumbag that is doing this to you is not the one that will come after them. USERS WHO GET STALKED WILL.

  27. DieLaughing
    May 22, 2008

    Tell me who it is and I’ll trace and expose them. Twitter can’t have decent security with morons in charge, I’ll hack the DB and get back to you in a couple of hours.

  28. Colin Stewart
    May 22, 2008

    That’s so disappointing, so cowardly and so wrong-headed. Should Twitter not be more afraid of a potential lawsuit from you over their failure to abide by their own stated rules? Good luck.

  29. Neil
    May 22, 2008

    Hopefully, now they will be embarrassed into taking action.

  30. Nathan Ketsdeve
    May 22, 2008

    Thats both horrible and tragic. I hope Twitter resolves your concerns. The problem on YouTube is equally troubling, although I don’t know how it squares
    with their TOS.

  31. Twitters Terms of Service = EPIC FAIL « Charnell Pugsley
    May 22, 2008

    […] Read Ariel Waldman’s full story here. […]

  32. Noel Jackson
    May 22, 2008

    OMG. This is awful Ariel. Sorry to hear about it. WTF is wrong with Twitter? I’d think ev wouldn’t stand for this… apparently Twitter has no integrity.

  33. missbhavens
    May 22, 2008

    Shame, shame, shame on twitter for being so nonchalant and so LAME! I’m so disappointed in them.

    They’re afraid of getting sued by someone who is violating their terms of service? That’s weasely and weird and totally unacceptable.

    I say you should sue them ASAP.

    No, seriously. Sue them.

  34. Aaron Richard
    May 22, 2008

    Do you know who the user is? If you do, and they are doing something like using personal information, you may have some kind of legal recourse under a right to privacy statute. If it’s just your full name, probably not, especially given that you use your full name as a username. Still, even the threat may be enough to get it to stop.

    Is the harassment on Twitter directed AT you? I would think that would be the difference between Twitter and Flickr. With Flickr, any kind of harassment would come in the form of comments left on your photos—clearly a personal attack. But with Twitter, well if someone is just talking trash about you, they sort of have a right to do that—so long as it’s not defamatory.

    Side note, the pinkness of your background causes me to see strange after color impressions when reading your blog and then looking at a white wall. Cool!

  35. C.C. Chapman
    May 22, 2008

    I can’t believe they are taking no action. It feels like they are turning a blind eye to an obvious problem and hoping it goes away. What are they thinking??

  36. charnellpugsley
    May 22, 2008

    This is awful. Having to grudge through the random downtimes we all have to experience with Twitter and now this, it makes me wonder what’s next. I’ve blogged your post, trackback’d, and have spread the word to other Twitter peeps (personal friends). I hope they choose to reconsider how they handle their TOS in the future.

  37. Vicki Davis
    May 22, 2008

    Twitter should do their part but people should also be held accountable for their actions. This person obviously has issues and I’m sure if they’re doing it here, they are doing it other places. There is no reason for this not to be able to be handled in some forum.

  38. dougwalk
    May 22, 2008

    Time to get out the big guns. Might want to pick up the phone and call @Ev. He seems like responsible sort of chap that would do the right thing. Or so I hope.

  39. Eugene Chan
    May 22, 2008

    Not cool. I hope you get this resolved ASAP! Do the right thing Twitter.

  40. Joe
    May 22, 2008

    Thanks for sharing that with everyone, I find posts like this to very difficult to write and I am glad that you shed light on this difficult subject matter in your life. Twitter needs to get with it. That is just ridiculous. Respect.

  41. Sameer Vasta
    May 22, 2008

    As someone who reads the TOS of every service I sign up for (much to the ridicule of my friends), I’m glad you brought this issue up.

    I’m so sorry that you had to go through this situation, and hope that it gets resolved soon.

    I do, however, hope that this serves as an example to people to be more aware of the TOS they agree to every time they sign up for a service.

  42. jason carlin
    May 22, 2008

    Wow. This is entirely unacceptable. Clearly it is the responsibility of any application that enables user-to-user communication to prevent itself from becoming a tool for unlawful or inappropriate public defamation. Maybe the next part of the conversation should be between Jack and your representation.

  43. Silona
    May 22, 2008

    Wow that is a bit naive on their part since you can sue them for NOT upholding it as a breach of contract.

    anyhoo sorry that psycho is still stalking you hon. god knows i feel for you on this one. At least my serious (aka dangerous) stalker issues were resolved before the internet got big.

    I mean the fan boy thing happens occasionally but nothing negative.

    you would think that “you know who” would get a life!

  44. Mark Jaquith
    May 22, 2008

    It’s completely ridiculous that they’d hide behind “don’t want to get sued” for a case with clear-cut violations of their TOS. Plus, it’s a free service. They don’t owe anything to anyone. I fail to see with what standing someone could sue for being banned.

  45. Lawrence
    May 22, 2008

    You know you’ve triggered a good few hundred lawsuits there?

    Anyway, I don’t see how a company with 8-figure investments can not afford a lawyer that can respond with a solid, definitive answer.

    Surely any lawyer in the field should know that when somebody violates terms of service clearly given to them when joining a (lets not forget, here) *FREE* service, they should get a warning, followed by a ban. What can an abuser of the system sue for? Loss of possession/finance? Nope. Twitter doesn’t use any. Loss of business? Nope, I’m pretty sure those users had little impact on the population of Twitter, e.g. low followers, and they wouldn’t be doing business on an account with such concerning language.

    I am very pro-twitter, but I can’t help thinking that they have not even considered scalability in their business plans.

    They should have a long board meeting, and not come back until they have mastered the basic concepts of scalable platforms.

  46. urban_ mermaid
    May 22, 2008

    ariel, this is shameful, especially since i know you can show a persistent pattern of harassment on the part of this individual across the web. it’s one thing to call someone a c__t once, it’s another for a habitual pattern to emerge, exposing your email.
    how will twitter treat others when this happens? i know that companies struggle with community management, but things that are bad for one member of the community tend to drag down the dialog as a whole.
    may this individual be banished, and may twitter respond.

  47. Lawrence
    May 22, 2008

    One more thing – why do we all have this idea in our heads that we can sue people in a free service?

  48. Kelly
    May 22, 2008

    I am in no way saying that the initial behavior – nor the response – is acceptable. But.
    I do understand Twitter’s legal concerns. My firm reps a large ISP and folks are constantly threatening suit over banning, removal, etc. Even when those folks don’t win, they can run up substantial legal costs to the company. The reality is that Twitter has likely done a cost analysis to determine how much it would cost to enforce an interpretation of the TOS and their legal team seems to have indicated that it would be more expensive to ban, etc., in this instance.
    I also agree with Aaron Richard re your personal remedies which might be available.
    One thing that is confusing – you mentioned that the user’s updates were removed from the timeline. If that were true and you weren’t following the user, how would you know that it was happening? Did Twitter put the tweets back up?
    Good luck.

  49. Joseph Hunkins
    May 22, 2008

    Shame on Twitter. Unless you’ve left out important details about this (ie have you been counter-abusive to this stalker, are they known to you, have you filed with police?)

    This is very alarming, though it is consistent with the idea that free speech pretty much trumps even the potential for violence and danger. If the community continues to tolerate this level of abuse and misuse.

  50. Jared K.
    May 22, 2008

    This is absolutely terrible. Bad, bad Twitter. No cookie. Spread the word! Tweet this link to all of your friends.

  51. Anna K
    May 22, 2008

    I’m disgusted with Twitter’s inaction. Their inaction is more offensive and dangerous than any action they are afraid of taking.

  52. Ed Roberts
    May 22, 2008

    Wow. This is clearly a case of “if we do it once, we are responsible for monitoring it all” … essentially opening Pandora’s box. Slander is illegal, which is definitely where it moved to. At that point, the argument of “they aren’t doing anything illegal” is invalid, let alone the TOS junk.
    Another confusing thing is that they’ve started to take action on spammers recently. Why wouldn’t they take action on this recurring, dangerous problem? I’d much rather have them give the boot or AT LEAST warnings to this type of harassment. I can understand not immediately banning someone when there is a complaint. Yet, this has been going on for MONTHS with open dialog about what was going on.

  53. John Johansen / jljohansen
    May 22, 2008

    Going to repeat what Michelle said. I can handle the outages but turning your back on the community that is supporting you would drive me away.

  54. Joseph Hunkins
    May 22, 2008

    sorry, didn’t finish earlier comment: If the community continues to tolerate this level of abuse and misuse everybody’s rights and voices will be more stifled than if reason prevails and we ban highly abusive people from the scene.

  55. Lori
    May 22, 2008

    that is ridiculous. i’m so sorry this is happening to you.

  56. PJ Doland
    May 22, 2008

    Is writing stuff like this about Twitter a part of your job as the community manager for Pownce?

  57. Glowbird
    May 22, 2008

    I scanned the comments, but didn’t see the person’s name or twitter name. Seems appropriate that it should be shared so we’ll all know…

  58. Dick
    May 22, 2008

    If they can’t keep the platform up the least they could do is care for the users who stick with them while they fuckin suck ass.

  59. Britney Mason
    May 22, 2008

    This is just dumb. Twitter is dumb. They are turning their community against them with no action.

  60. Kevin Makice
    May 22, 2008

    I wonder if a community-wide action of blocking the user would help. Sort of a reverse Digg, or communal voting off the island.

    I hope you weather through this. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure you aren’t alone in this.

  61. GGJeffy
    May 22, 2008

    Yikes! Looks like you’ll have to stop using Twitter in order to stop being harassed.

  62. crunchy carpets
    May 22, 2008

    Hmm I wonder if they ‘knew’ the harasser. I remember once on a forum that a harasser was connected to the the powers that be that ran the site..making them untouchable basically.

    It sounds here like they would have preferred YOU went away instead.

    With that and the amount of down time and slow gotta wonder

  63. Ben
    May 22, 2008

    That’s terrible. I’m sorry to hear about that. I was thinking of trying Twitter out, but I don’t think I’m interested now.

    Hmm… Odd, it seems like you could have potential grounds for a lawsuit. I’m no lawyer, but it seems they broke their terms of service.

  64. R
    May 22, 2008

    This is really awful. I’ll reconsider using Twitter from now on.

    However, and I don’t want to get flamed for this, but why do you think it was vague to Twitter? Certainly you don’t want to propagate the nasty things being said about you, but if we don’t see them, we can’t *completley* grab our pitchforks and torches against Twitter’s insensitivity.

    I hope this all gets resolved very soon.

  65. zeldman
    May 22, 2008

    Unbelievably lame and sad. I’m shocked. And I feel angry on your behalf.

  66. Jeff Davis
    May 22, 2008

    That is very disturbing to say the least. Twitter needs to step up and stand behind their TOS – it is that simple. Sorry you are having to deal with this.

  67. yttrx
    May 22, 2008

    Having had some experience with just this kind of thing, from the receiving end of harassment to being the person who decides what accounts live and die in a variety of public forums and for large companies, I can tell you this:

    Twitter will honor its TOS the very moment Jack gets *upset* enough to do so. Classically, the (BOFH) method is to tweet-harass Jack himself until he complies with his own TOS.

  68. coleki
    May 22, 2008

    I wonder if you can sue or threaten to sue them for allowing this user to commit libel on their system, when their TOS (presumably) states that they will take action against those types of violations…

  69. it's me again margret
    May 22, 2008

    she’s a whiney ass.Sounds like she didn’t get called a cunt till she tried to have his account closed.Hey this is the world and we are adults get over it.

  70. Jim of D
    May 22, 2008

    Why not just quit Twitter?

  71. Martin Oetting
    May 22, 2008

    Your experience seems so strange. If this wasn’t ridiculous, I would almost assume that they seem to want to protect this person for some strange reason… At any rate, I retweeted and blogged this, and I hope enough support in the community will build up.

  72. coleki
    May 22, 2008

    (replying to myself here…) Well it appears that threatening to sue them won’t work, because of this clause in their TOS:
    “While prohibits such conduct and content on its site, you understand and agree that Twitter cannot be responsible for the Content posted on its web site and you nonetheless may be exposed to such materials and that you use the service at your own risk.”

  73. coleki
    May 22, 2008

    (replying to myself here…) Well it appears that threatening to sue them won’t work, because of this clause in their TOS:
    “While prohibits such conduct and content on its site, you understand and agree that Twitter cannot be responsible for the Content posted on its web site and you nonetheless may be exposed to such materials and that you use the service at your own risk.”
    I wonder if that’s always been in their TOS…

  74. debutaunt
    May 22, 2008

    Hmm. Thought this was a joke comment – guess not? Still e-stalking = no fun, but maybe your ties with Pownce are why Twitter will take no action?

    # PJ Doland Says:
    May 22nd, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Is writing stuff like this about Twitter a part of your job as the community manager for Pownce?

  75. werk
    May 22, 2008

    Sounds like one side of a story to me. My guess would be that you are responding in kind if not provoking this person or twitter would have taken action in your defense as all other social networks have and do.

    Not enough info for me to pick a side here, but it smells a little too one-sided for me to grab my torch and pitchfork.

  76. Josh Nichols
    May 22, 2008

    I really hate to even suggest it…

    What if, by some coincidence, twitter employees were to start being harassed on twitter?

  77. YdurZosavachia
    May 22, 2008

    This reminds me of this Austin Tx rule where animal control does nothing if a dog confronts a human unless (I stress the word UNLESS.) it actually hurts someone. boo…

  78. Ashley Sue of Green Grounded
    May 22, 2008

    Wow~ Twitter is acting completely irresponsibly in this situation. TOS is clear, in which case users cannot dispute if they violate policy.

    I will be reposting this and helping draw attention to this corporate irresponsibility.

  79. Jim Raynor
    May 22, 2008

    I sent twitter a complaint. I’m not sure it will get anything changed, but I hope it does

  80. Twitter Faces Serious Problems - Covering All That's Social On the Web
    May 22, 2008

    […] such person is Ariel Waldman who has been harassed on the site. She was driven to post on Get Satisfaction following […]

  81. iamjolly
    May 22, 2008

    Very disturbing stuff there Ariel, and it’s a terrible stance for Twitter to take. I’ve had similar experiences with harassment (not on Twitter) and have had to take further action before. I hope you are able to find peace.
    To Jack at Twitter, please wake up, realize you’re looking like an ass here and make things right.

  82. Claye
    May 22, 2008

    C’mon Twitter, you’ve got to stick up for your users – a lot of terrible things are done within the limits of the law.

  83. unvs
    May 22, 2008

    This is insane! So sad to hear about this..

  84. Yaanu
    May 22, 2008

    Too long, didn’t read.

  85. Debbie
    May 22, 2008

    Lets be honest, no one really needs twitter, and with responses like that, I don’t think I want to use them.

    May 22, 2008

    twitter rhymes with shitter for a very good reason

  87. Yaanu
    May 22, 2008

    Besides, who on the Internet actually uses their real name?

  88. Clemdog
    May 22, 2008

    But what if you are a cunt? Doesn’t freedom of speech allow people to call each other names? I feel like we are not hearing the whole story here. Why should Twitter have to step in for some petty disagreement between two people. If Twitter had to step in every time someone called someone else a bad name they wouldn’t have time to do anything else. That would be the end of Twitter. Web service operators are not under any obligation to enforce their Terms, but they can at their discretion.

  89. ttrentham
    May 22, 2008

    Between the uptime problems and this, it’s not very good PR week for Twitter.

  90. thenathster
    May 22, 2008

    That reply Twitter sent to you about doing nothing illegal is wrong. It is illegal to use language like that on the internet. Any swearing or such has been illegal for a long time on the internet, but since it would be an invasion of privacy for the government to spy on the internet like that, the government can’t just start arresting people. I’m not sure if you could actually have someone arrested for it, but i know if people repeatedly curse in public when asked to stop, they can be taken to court and fined, or even spend a short time (like 90 days) in jail.

  91. fsda
    May 22, 2008

    Ever heard of freedom of speech?

  92. enclaved
    May 22, 2008

    Obviously, everyone here is looking at this wrong. It isn’t sad that twitter is not handling abusive users well, it is awesome that twitter is letting everyone be that way. Join in, have fun. Once it degrades into a sniveling mess of drooling retards calling everyone a cunt, they’ll realize what it cost them to not do anything.

  93. Frak
    May 22, 2008

    Rebellion against Twitter! Time to bounce to Pownce!

    Seriously, I have stopped using Twitter for sending personal messages. It’s a major personal security risk.

    I know someone at this very moment who is traveling abroad and Twittering via mobile, “It’s really a beautiful day here in (Country)!” Yeah, and while you’re enjoying the weather, I’ll be in your house stealing your big screen and raiding your fridge and there’s nothing you can do about it. Thanks for the tip, Twitterman!

    Use IM for personal messages for cryin’ out loud. And I could give a rat’s ass about what you’re listening to right now, what movie you watched, and what restaurant you are currently picking your nose in.

  94. nick
    May 22, 2008

    stop using twitter then? why people feel compelled to update the world on their daily routine is beyond me.

  95. Nick Braak
    May 22, 2008

    This is account being used. Seems like more of a sort of anonymizer service for twitter/social experiment.

  96. Alan Bristow
    May 22, 2008

    Most irresponsible and poor of twitter. I am sorry indeed for you. Twitter seem to be enjoying the good of being in the space they are in, without accepting that there is a price, namely that that need to be responsible and act as a reasonable person would act (and not shirk responsibility simply because it comes with risk).

  97. Jeffrey Zeldman Presents : A Tweet Too Far
    May 22, 2008

    […] Waldman’s “Twitter Refuses to Uphold Terms of Service” makes a disturbing read and a depressing […]

  98. Kara M.
    May 22, 2008

    How frustrating for you to endure such abuse and not get the resolution you deserve. I’m so sorry to hear about this situation and I’m utterly disappointed in Twitter and their negligence in enforcing basic TOA.

  99. Andrew
    May 22, 2008

    Apparently, according to the Internet Archive, the part of the TOS concerning “we can’t police ourselves, so deal with it” (see the point made by coleki above) has been there since the beginning –

  100. Beau Wade
    May 22, 2008

    Sorry to hear this is happening and very surprised Twitter is keeping it’s tail between it’s legs on resolving the issue. This kind of thing makes a community intolerable. I hope for yours and all of our sake they come to their senses.

  101. /pd
    May 22, 2008

    have move this onto FF – for discussion

  102. Nick O'Neill
    May 22, 2008

    Wow, after reading some of your comments I am amazed by the amount of crap you have to deal with. I only have one person that harasses me in the comments but having this many is ridiculous. Feel free to ping me if you ever need to vent. That’s truly unfortunate and unacceptable.

  103. Matt Joyce
    May 22, 2008

    I agree with twitter. You were not justified in your attempt to get their account removed. Don’t go crying to the site admin when someone decides to drop C-Bombs on you. We live in a society built on freedom of expression and speech. You are making a mistake by crossing the threshold even if for a good reason.

  104. Tony "BigTC"
    May 22, 2008

    I know someone else who was having problems like this Ariel. On Twitter, dm @Dayngr. Perhaps the power of 2 will help Twitter’s Mgmt that something needs to be done.

  105. Joshua McKenty
    May 22, 2008

    I have a lot of sympathy for you. I ended up settling a $1000 lawsuit after failing to get YouTube to enforce (or even investigate or return emails) their TOS. Ah well.

    The silver lining is that this sort of big-company-bullshit behavior is what creates space in the market for new entrepreneurs to do better.

    Great to see the Digg count growing on this one – I’m seeing a lot of re-tweets. Poetic justice – Twitter, the weapon of their own downfall.

  106. Epods
    May 22, 2008

    I flipped through the comments really fast, so apologize if this was already said, but couldn’t you just file a lawsuit because Twitter won’t uphold their ToS? :/

  107. DJ @ Fermentarium
    May 22, 2008

    Wow. It seems like Twitter is getting worse by the day. At what point do we all switch to Pownce? :)

  108. Will Twitter’s Growing Pains Open the Door to Competition? at definitive items of the utmost unimportance
    May 22, 2008

    […] is putting the pressure on the relatively small company. Most recently, a pretty strong case of Twitter refusing to uphold their own ToS and, arguably, enabling harassment in the process has not helped them […]

  109. Greg
    May 22, 2008

    Hi Ariel, I hope now that post is on digg that they will indeed take prompt action. I am betting this is a bad mannered little boy who’s parents did not spank him when he was younger. Wow give some people the feeling of being anonymous and they act like total bozo’s! Furthermore for the people who love talking about freedom of speech calling names is not speech it does not add any useful content to any discussion it only shows that the person has bad manners and has lost the debate because their point of view lacks merit. Profanity is always used by dimwitted people trying to cover that they have lost the debate or they are trying to impress those whom are slow intellectually…

  110. Kathy
    May 22, 2008

    Love reading the comments …. good ole misogynist geeks here, too.

    Guys, calling a women a cunt seems to be socially acceptable to some of you. If you were black, how would you feel if we called you a nigger? If you were muslim, how would you feel if we called you a raghead? If you were a jew, how would you feel if we called you a kyke? If you were chinese, how would you feel if we called you a chink?

    These are NOT civil forms of address, under any stretch.

    One instance of incivility is also not harassment. What Ariel has described, however, is clear harassment and possible defamation of character.

    Twitter has, IMO, set itself up to be sued for failing to uphold its own TOS. [IANAL] This is STUPID. Unfortunately, given the response to the Kathy Sierra incidents, and the HRC videos on YouTube, I suppose I should not be surprised at either Twitter’s “customer support” response or the responses of several people in this comment thread.

  111. David Chartier
    May 22, 2008

    Wow, this is terrible to hear. Sorry about your misadventures, and I hope getting the matter out in the open like this will help Twitter straighten out how they handle their own TOS violations.

  112. Dick Gozinya
    May 22, 2008

    sounds like a real cop out.

  113. Maddy
    May 22, 2008

    I am real close to quitting Twitter as it is, sick of how kludgy the service is with frequent outages.

    Knowing that they play favorites with the kind of losers who called you “cunt” above, for all I know they could be Twitter employees themselves, I’m sick of them.

    I would be a Twitter enthusiast if they showed any sign of caring about the user experience. Instead they take their users for granted.

  114. R
    May 22, 2008

    This is exactly why I don’t use Twitter:

    1) No user advocacy
    2) Too many cunts

  115. Alan
    May 22, 2008

    Right! So I was just contemplating on whether I should recommend my friends to jump in with me on to th Twitter service, then I read this! Thank you for posting this. You might want to take a look at Tumblr, which I’ve found to be more innovative from the very start. shame on you Twitter. You just lost several dozen potential users from my end.

  116. Jenny, Bloggess
    May 22, 2008

    Maybe twitter thinks “cunt” is a term of endearment?

  117. Jon
    May 22, 2008

    Incredibly weak and pitiful response from Twitter. Makes me angry to think that their fear or ignorance of the law enables them to think it’s OK to push resolution of their problem to you. It’s as pathetic as the anonymous hate in some of the previous comments. Wishing you the best of luck.

  118. Dave Zatz
    May 22, 2008

    @Yanno I use my real name.

  119. Erin Kissane
    May 22, 2008

    Hi Ariel,

    Thanks for taking this public, and for doing so after attempting to deal with it in every other obvious way. It’s a pity that doing so dredges up the sad, emotionally stunted responses that show up whenever anyone discusses harassment.

    From a business perspective, deciding to allow people to use Twitter to harasser and stalk other users with impunity is incredibly stupid. It limits Twitter’s potential user base by alienating anyone who’s ever been stalked and I’d bet big stacks of money that it will alienate organizations who might want to use Twitter in interesting, innovative ways but aren’t interested in being associated with a service that lets harassment thrive.

    Flickr gets it, bless their clever little hearts. Twitter would do well to follow their example.

  120. Foster
    May 22, 2008


    Thanks for sharing this. A cautionary tale for us all, both Twitterers and social networking sites.

    I wish I didn’t see so many mean-spirited comments here. Free Speech is not permission to abuse others.

    ttrentham is spot-on, bad PR week for Twitter.

  121. Steve Rhodes
    May 22, 2008

    Kelly, you don’t do a cost benefit analysis when someone is being harrassed.

    And there is not absolute free speech on twitter. When people sign up, they agree to not “abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users” and twitter should enforce that.

  122. Marty Net
    May 22, 2008

    Perhaps they should be worried that you will sue them. If they don’t uphold their TOS aren’t they participating in these acts of harassment? Sounds like a law suit to me.

  123. Erin Kissane
    May 22, 2008

    “Harass,” not “harasser.” Oh for comment preview.

  124. Replete
    May 22, 2008


  125. zchamu
    May 22, 2008

    How on earth would they get sued for banning someone from using their service? Twitter isn’t a democracy, it’s a company owned by an individual or a series of individuals. It’s nobody’s “right” to use Twitter. You’re there “at their pleasure”, as it were.

    If their only excuse for not banning someone after several instances of clear and explicit abuse and harassment is that they “don’t want to get sued”, then they are clearly batshit crazy and obliviously stupid.

  126. Hax Or
    May 22, 2008

    Twitter stole the concept from Blue Puff Software’s Aquarium Blog. This is one more additional instance where they are not to be trusted. Karma’s gonna get ’em. ;)

  127. Ryan Benson
    May 22, 2008

    Like others have said, this is completely sick, especially since they your full name. One thing you didn’t mention (unless I missed it) is if the user is using the @(Your username) feature of Twitter, or if they are just saying “Ariel is a ___.” I would say this is crucial, cause while you think your name is unique there maybe another one of you.

    But still even if you are a third party and witnessing somebody harassing somebody else, and you report that to Twitter, Twitter has the obligation to take action.

  128. Keith
    May 22, 2008

    Wow, Ariel, this really sucks. I’m sorry to hear you had to go through any of this, let alone the TOS bullshit.

  129. IIsDaBmb
    May 22, 2008

    Great news for spammers! I assume that this post will gain enough popularity that spammers will abuse the system and Twitter will be forced to do something about it. I guess thats the point of the post.

  130. Tyrian
    May 22, 2008

    Yuanu –
    “Too long, didn’t read.”
    “Besides, who on the Internet actually uses their real name?”

    Exactly what I was thinking. Don’t be an attention whore on the internet and you won’t get trolled. Simple as that.

  131. Cyndy Aleo-Carreira
    May 22, 2008

    You know, I was really one of their fans, but over the past two weeks, I’ve become convinced that it’s a place being run by a bunch of amateurs. @Clemdog, no, freedom of speech does not include the right to harrass people. I’m starting to think that “The U.S. Constitution 101” should be required before anyone is allowed onto the Intartubes. Why bother having a TOS at all? I’m betting they copied it from another site, have no idea what it means, and are silly enough that they are willing to create more bad press in fears that they’ll get the bad press of a lawsuit.

    Keep in mind that they deleted Loren Feldman’s “Shelisreal” account, but that was a much bigger voice. I’m guessing they decided to hedge their bets on this one assuming no one would notice.

  132. Myron Dalrymple
    May 22, 2008

    Given your relationship to Pownce (ie. they are your corporate paymasters), your testimony should be taken with a grain of salt. Not claiming to know the situation, just seems to be some benefit in you fanning this controversy. Hackery.

  133. The good and the bad of engaging with your community —
    May 22, 2008

    […] management when it comes to harrassment. Ariel Waldman experienced this herself and here is her blogpost about it which says it all. This shows once more that it’s not important what business or lawyers say, […]

  134. Michael Paulson
    May 22, 2008

    Talk about the use of Blogs and the web! This is exactly what we all should be doing! Ariel has done her homework and is doing exactly what she should be. I love twitter also but people going outside of the golden rule should be stopped no matter what! Some of these responses are about as shallow as the person that does the harassing also! There is no need for treating someone badly! No Twitter shouldn’t have to police each and everyone that thinks they are getting bothered. We should be grown up and acting like the people we are and the person that we want to be treated like! For those of you that left nastey remarks, remember this when the next person that spits in your face and treats you the same way. It will come back to you. Count on it! Keep going Ariel!

  135. digitaljhelms
    May 22, 2008

    I concur with ttrentham.

  136. Super Zoe
    May 22, 2008

    Great post on the distinctions between illegalities, and upholding a stated policy. Illuminating! Thanks!

  137. Steve Hall
    May 22, 2008

    Way to wake up/launch the new blog! I think everyone on the internets has read this:-) Sorry you have to deal with this but if you look at Blogger, Odeo and now Twitter, there’s an emerging pattern of lase fair (or however the fuck you spell that). Apologizing for problems is one thing. Apologizing and never fixing them is quite another.

  138. Kevin N. Murphy
    May 22, 2008

    Funny a “social” site would act more like a corporation just interested in protecting itself. Unacceptable.

  139. IT Guy
    May 22, 2008

    Sounds to me like your stalker is trying to “google bomb” you by publicly attaching bad things to your name and information. If scans all of these it will start to associate your name with them. Good luck and keep trying to get this asshat taken care of.

  140. Heather R.
    May 22, 2008

    This is distressing.

    To everyone who is proposing that Ariel leave Twitter: You’re missing the point completely.

    Think about how a similar situation would pan out in the real world. You’re sitting in your favorite restaurant, having a fantastic meal. You go there regularly, and tip well. You have an amicable relationship with the owners of the establishment, and appreciate its services.

    Then, in walks a man who begins to loudly yell to the entire restaurant (not just to you) that you’re a xyzbadname. He also announces your personal contact information. This continues for the duration of your meal.

    The next time you go there, it happens again.

    The next time you go there, it happens again.

    And so on.

    Do you think 1) The owners would ever let it get that far? 2) It would be right for you to have to stop attending your favorite restaurant?

    No and no.

  141. helical
    May 22, 2008

    I think that a community effort would be required on this on (the “reverse digg” that kevin mackice suggested) because Twitter does have protection from enforcing their TOS.

    By their TOS:
    “We may, but have no obligation to, remove Content and accounts containing Content that we determine in our sole discretion are unlawful, offensive, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene or otherwise objectionable or violates any party’s intellectual property or these Terms of Use.”
    Twitter TOS, General Conditions, item 4

  142. Todd Sieling
    May 22, 2008

    I’m really surprised that Twitter has locked itself into a cranial-rectal insertion. Shockingly poor responses, all the way up the chain. Thanks for sharing this story.

  143. zchamu
    May 22, 2008

    Also, it’s pretty evident that your harasser is leaving lots o’messages on here too. Charming.

  144. JP32
    May 22, 2008

    This is a completely absurd position by Twitter’s mgt. Yes, they are right to worry about the expense of a lawsuit, but anyone can sue for anything (as long as they can pay the attny fees or convince an attny to take the case on spec). I doubt your harasser would get any attny to take the case on spec (for starters, what are his damages?), and he probably doesn’t have the funds to pay for one.

    The solution here is to get an attny to write a letter on your behalf, threatening to sue. You’ll have a much better case (and maybe even some legit damages). This will certainly get their attention, and maybe some action, when they realize that failure to act will also result in more legit suits.

    In any case, it shows that the mgt of Twitter are just mindless scared little pukes — not worth wasting our time on them. we should just avoid their service and let it die, in the reasonable expectation that some worthwhile people will soon start a better one.

  145. Paul Dettman
    May 22, 2008

    Ariel – You hit something here, for sure, but everyone seems to think you hit something different. My take is Twitter needs to enforce its own rules, otherwise they shouldn’t publish those rules. On the specifics of what was said to you, it is harsh enough to involve the police never mind the Twitter legal dept. On the specifics of Twitter, my patience is shot and after a couple weeks trying it out, their downtime is too great and their arrogance/apathy (hard to tell which) here is disappointing. One more cross in their box.

    I wonder – are you up for filing a test case? Could be fun…

  146. Eric Susch
    May 22, 2008

    Wow. I just lost a lot of respect for Twitter. What a shame.

    It’s not in their best interest to uphold their own TOS? Welcome to crazyland.

  147. ME
    May 22, 2008

    To bad Twitter is run by such twats! Boycott the service and stop saying nice things about them. Libel, slander? Do these ring a bell?

  148. chai
    May 22, 2008

    Seems to me like you could simply unplug from twitter and never have to read another harassing message. Also, I’m not so familiar with the service, but don’t you have to “opt-in” to read other user’s tweets?

  149. Rob
    May 22, 2008

    Jeez Ariel, that’s awful! Sorry to hear about your grief. I find it surprising Twitter are behaving like this – seems teenage-like? It really annoys me why some pranksters decide to screw a good thing up at the expense of everyone else.

  150. Dave
    May 22, 2008

    They just cashed in $15m, plenty of cash for lawyers.

  151. Christopher Mims
    May 22, 2008

    I sometimes get the feeling that Twitter means well but they are just kind of new to this whole game. I had an incident in which Twitter actually took away my username for a while because MTV wanted it for promotional purposes (it’s complicated):

    fortunately, my story had a happier ending than yours and was resolved to my satisfaction…

  152. Parky
    May 22, 2008

    To show your support fo Arial please Follow “WeSupportArial”

  153. prisca
    May 22, 2008

    very disappointed to read your post – how can Twitter treat this matter so dismissively..!?

    Hope your complaint will soon be acted on the way it should have been in the first place by banning and erasing this user.
    all the best.

  154. lane hartwell
    May 22, 2008

    just out the person harassing you. let the community take care of it, you know they will. too bad twitter isn’t backing you.

  155. Kevin Dill
    May 22, 2008

    It might just be time to switch to multimedia messaging at We take our TOS seriously and will enforce it. :)

  156. Kelly
    May 22, 2008

    To clarify, you don’t have to be right in order to not be sued.

  157. HighAesthetic
    May 22, 2008

    Oh man, this is just adding weight to my growing concern that all twitter is is a building of the most viral and extensive spam database the world has ever known. When you refuse to put your users interests above your personal gain, you cease to be a community facilitator. I agree that it is not Twitters responsibility to intervene however it is their responsibility if it is continuous and/or escalating, thereby moving into the category of abuse.

  158. Unnamed
    May 22, 2008

    Hmm…. why isn’t Twitter afraid of being sued by a user who is continually harrassed? Twitter knows about the harrassment and refuses to do anything about it. By failing to act, they are condoning the harrassment. Innocent users have a reasonable expectation that Twitter will enforce their TOS in order to protect them from continued harrassment.

  159. sue me
    May 22, 2008

    they are scared of getting sued so they refuse to act. do they not realize that YOU can sue for their breach of contract?! politely inform them of this fact and you may get a better response.

  160. ktjames
    May 22, 2008

    How can Twitter claim that they can’t afford it? They have millions in venture money, right? They don’t advertise, and they must not be paying much for bandwidth since it goes down all the time. Not to mention the screen breaking. This is terrible. Will publicize.

  161. KC
    May 22, 2008

    Why can’t you just block their account? Did I miss that part?

  162. Cat Laine
    May 22, 2008

    It’s either a case of spinelessness or horrible lawyers (or worse lack of real concern for their userbase). What’s odd is that given so many of twitter’s devotees are women, why would they want to send the message that this sort of thing is kosher on their site? And to not even send the user a warning email is gutless. I’m very disappointed in their team.

  163. Ryan Rumsey
    May 22, 2008

    Unbelievable. I am saddened by this.

  164. Robert
    May 22, 2008

    Do they not realize that not enforcing their TOS can ultimately kill twitter off?

    What has allowed twitter to thrive is the community that has come to it, it’s not like we can’t move to another service like twitter….

  165. Ophelia Chong
    May 22, 2008

    Under the cloak of “anonymous” they sling mud at you and then hide. Cowards. In RL would they do that? Doubtful, unless they are open to getting a restraining order slapped on them. Twitter is on the side of more users, than enforcing their own TOS. i am sorry that you have to go through this.

  166. Thomas
    May 22, 2008

    Freedom of speech does not allow you to call each other bad names on Twitter. The First Amendment (ideally) protects us from government suppression of speech, but inciteful, untruthful or defamatory speech is excepted. Twitter is a private service and not subject to the first amendment. The TOS is a contract between Twitter and its users that expressly prohibits users from harassing others. There is no issue here of the truthfulness anyone being a “cunt”; in this context that word simply foul language.

  167. cleversimon
    May 22, 2008

    I wonder if you wouldn’t get a more acceptable response from Twitter if you had your lawyer talk to them, Ariel.

  168. Tim Dorr
    May 22, 2008

    Wow, that’s pretty dumb. I’m guessing Jack was hoping to sweep this under the rug and not turn it into a PR problem for them. Looks like just the opposite is going to happen. It would be a good time for him to come about on this issue, ban the guy, and accept responsibility for not taking action.

  169. VV
    May 22, 2008

    Someone calling you a cunt isn’t harassment. Cunt. :p

  170. huh
    May 22, 2008

    Have you tried talking to the “stalker”? Sometimes that is the best way to stop something like this, rather than passive aggresively emailing company CEOs.

  171. Andy Snaith
    May 22, 2008

    I find it shocking too that they seem to have tried to distance themselves from abuse happening within their own platform. If it is not up to them ‘to get involved’ then who is it upto? Clearly nobody, and for such a popular site this is poor!

  172. Alan Wilensky
    May 22, 2008

    Who would send mean messages to a nice young lady like yourself? I just can’t imagine. If you want, I can help track down their physical address, and give them a lead-pipe guaranteed trouble ticket in the knee cap. This worked for a friend, and I was glad to help.

  173. Ariel Waldman
    May 22, 2008

    Note: I did remove a few select comments on this post that were left just to call names rather than provide critical opinions.

  174. spikey
    May 22, 2008

    Twitter:Lame. How about you taking legal action against Twitter and that user for cyber bullying.

  175. mike
    May 22, 2008

    Should forward this along to Spark Capital. Inability to manage your community should be a red flag to anyone.

  176. Mike Dowden
    May 22, 2008

    Because ClemDog, it’s not about every time someone called someone else a bad name. It’s about repeatedly being harassed by the same person for a year. Not a singular drive-by or even multiple instances from different people. Same person. I think your argument might make sense in those instances. Not this one.

  177. Morghus
    May 22, 2008

    Holy s*it! I am going to assume that you’re not kidding (:P), and that the people at Twitter are … well … dumb. *hugs*

  178. Jeni
    May 22, 2008

    Wow. That’s really awful – and how disappointing to hear that Twitter basically sat on their hands and refused to deal with the situation.

  179. Jason Litka
    May 22, 2008

    Well then… I’m glad I never signed up.

  180. Charles Boyer
    May 22, 2008

    One gets the idea that Twitter is not taking its users seriously, as this seems to be a very clear case of harassment.

    Given this and their other problems, Twitter doesn’t seem like it will be long for the aether world, as something better will come along and replace them fairly quickly.

    Good luck Ariel.

  181. Lisa Brewster
    May 22, 2008

    Responding to Sean Percival’s comment way up there at the top of the page…regardless of where the truth lies between “his story” and “her story,” those types of attacks are never appropriate and should not be tolerated in a public forum.

    As someone who has been in this kind of situation before, kudos to Ariel for being brave enough to share her very personal experience to bring public attention to twitter’s policy enforcement.

    Disclaimer: I didn’t read all the other comments…count went from 91 to 180 something while I slipped off for a meeting. Sheesh!

  182. Emily Chang
    May 22, 2008

    This is a completely unacceptable response from Twitter. I’m extremely disappointed. They’re afraid of getting sued? The TOS I agreed to clearly states “#4: You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.”

    As for the ridiculous comments above, the issue isn’t about Ariel, but everyone that uses Twitter. As I posted over at the Get Satisfaction forum: “Revising the TOS is not the answer. We want Twitter to uphold basic, decent community principles: if someone in the community is being harassed, Twitter should act immediately with a warning to the harasser, then a follow-up, and if it continues, ban them. We’re all passionate about Twitter but that’s because we believed this was a community, not a bureaucracy where you’ll change your TOS rather than do the right thing and protect your users.

    Would you have the same response to this issue if the harassment was being made against one of your own staff?”

  183. Twitter refuses to uphold Terms of Service | Scott's Morning Brew
    May 22, 2008

    […] And now it appears they are afraid of their own shadow when it comes to enforcing their own rules.  They have sparked the ire of social media consultant Ariel Waldman over her complaints to Twitter about a cyberbully who has been harassing her since 2007. As I found out last month, the reality of Twitter is that they refuse to warn and/or ban people who use their service to “abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users” (to quote their forth line item on their TOS page). What does this mean? In short, anyone can use Twitter to consistently harass you and ruin search results for your identity and Twitter won’t execute any means of community management.  -=SOURCE=- […]

  184. thenathster
    May 22, 2008

    user fsda, freedom of speech only goes so far. You;re not allowed to go about yelling fire in public areas to create mass panic and such. It’s against the law. Just like you can’t get naked and run around it public; you can’t do whatever you want.

  185. John
    May 22, 2008

    Just found this. I really hope you get some resolution of this and not just another bunch of idiots. Its really disappointing to read of this reaction from Twitter. It seems to suggest they’ve missed the point that a social networking site needs to provide a safe place to succeed.

  186. Speroni
    May 22, 2008

    Use their fear against them. Threaten to sue them. Sue them.

  187. Bjoern
    May 22, 2008

    Hey Ariel, I am myself working in a project that has a Community of over 800k Users and I get your point on the Topic. But honestly, if you are successful you will always have people that are envious and will insult/harass/throw eggs at you and I think you are not so ingenuous that you think everyone loves you and no one would ever talk about you behind your back. Because that is happening every day for sure.

    I think you know best yourself that you’re not one of the things mentioned by your new best Twitter Friend and that you should care sh*t.

    And this will also have no influence on your Digital Reputation at all, people that are clever enough to look your name up on Twitter and find these things will also be clever enough to see if someone clearly is harassing you or has a point in what he says. People who don’t get that have a huge character flaw and are not worth talking to anyway.

    But to make this whole thing public does just a few things for sure and you should know that as a Community Manager, first of all people will ask themselves why is someone out of nowhere harassing you if you’ve done nothing, and you should know from your job that most of the time two people are involved if that kind of “conflicts” happen.

    It is hard to understand for most people that Stalking really exists and most of the time it is a one-side thing, just because there is such a small percentage who had these problems already, most people still strictly believe if someone is insulting or harassing you he has a reason for that.

    Secondly, if Jack asks you for a private phone call and answers your mails with confidential information and that they would like to help you but first need to call their lawyers etc. it is not nice to make this whole stuff public.

    Even if you feel attacked and treated unfair that is a thing which is definitely not working, what should the Twitter people think now? Every time we get a Mail from Ariel, we better not answer or she will pull out her mighty Megaphone and put that whole thing over the Internet?

    What would you do if you would be treated that way?

    Finally yet importantly, I have to say this whole thing is a big problem nonetheless. In Germany, we have strict Anti-Stalking laws for such cases. Moreover, if I were you I would also have a talk to a lawyer and have Twitter help me out to get the IP Address etc of that Guy / Girl / Chewbacca and report it to the police.

    Freedom of Speech does not mean to insult people even if the C-word is more something to laugh about than to react.

    Nevertheless, to bring your name together with drug use and pornography might be illegal even in the States. I don’t know.

    All in all Good luck with getting rid of your Stalker and all the best, but I think to make this whole thing Ultra Public, and with your relation to Pownce, make your own mind up what other people and maybe future employers might think about you know.

    It maybe just would have been better to check legal actions and delete your account on Twitter if you’re not happy with what the Twitter folks is telling you.

    Please see this as constructive criticism from someone who have seen and gone through much worse things. I fully understand that you want to protect yourself and you have full rights to do so. It’s just the way you do it that makes the difference.

    Just my very loooong 2 Cents.


    P.S: Thanks everyone for taking the time to read this.

    Stealing other peoples life time is such a bad habit.

  188. Mari
    May 22, 2008

    Jack being the owner of a small business, I can see why he’d be afraid of a lawsuit, but if it were me, I’d be more afraid of a blogpost like this detailing everything causing multiple users to quit using my service. I’ve never used twitter, and if they admit they wont uphold their own TOS, then I never will.

  189. » Let’s Connect on Twitter
    May 22, 2008

    […] it’s downtime and its questionable interpretation of its Terms of Service, I’m increasingly finding Twitter a great place to connect with […]

  190. Vicky
    May 22, 2008

    Thanks for this! Like many social networks I find myself curious what I’m missing out on but it seems like all of them have a disturbing TOS and I find myself having to be very careful about what information I post. Now I know not to even bother giving Twitter a chance.

    Thanks for saving me a lot of aggravation!

  191. John Yarbrough
    May 22, 2008

    Typical – another company acting out of fear instead of using common sense and decency. I sincerely hope that this gets resolved soon.

  192. Terms Of Service. Just For Show? : Slobokan’s Site O’ Schtuff
    May 22, 2008

    […] Twitter has some serious issues to address. […]

  193. Gavin Heaton
    May 22, 2008

    Thanks for bringing this out in the open. Hard to believe that this sort of behaviour is still being tolerated by community-based platforms.

  194. MsK
    May 22, 2008

    I realize this is being primarily focused upon Twitter because this is where the “attacks” are playing out; but IMHO, you should be going to the site that created the Confessions account on Twitter, too… asking them to ban their anonymous user’s IP who keeps mentioning your name. Twitter can’t see the *person* who is making the attack, so why make them responsible for it? The one who created the Confessions account should be responsible.

    I’ve read through SEVERAL comments following this and feel that it is a bit of an issue that Twitter isn’t contacting the account holder to remedy their side of the responsibility. But — who’s to say WHO is posting the comments in the Confessions Kosso site?

    I’ve been stalked, harassed and physically accosted by a person who didn’t hide behind anonymous means… so this – not to down play being harassed – just seems like a marketing/publicity stunt to get viral attention. People get emotionally tied to your “story” and want to champion for you – and therefore follow you – as a survivor of harassing/stalking abuse – I did just that, I instantly followed you on Twitter so that I could stay informed about your plight… about your drama. And for what?

    In the end … I still wonder if this is *really* about the TOS.

  195. gary
    May 22, 2008

    what sort of law system allows someone to sue a website for deleting their account after they’ve been using it to harass someone?

  196. Emily H
    May 22, 2008

    I actually run community for a very large social news site (not digg) and deal with this kind of issue daily. While it is true that TOS is generally open to interpretation, most TOS also say that you can be removed from the site at any time. Disclaimer: I have not specifically reviewed the twitter TOS. A user would have no grounds for suing you when you remove them from your site. They may get threatened with a lawsuit or even the ol’ “you are violating my freedom of speech” anthem, but this is absolutely not of concern to a private website deciding that a user is no longer free to post on their service. Freedom of speech is a protection from the government, not from a privately owned website on the internet. This is more a customer service issue than anything else. Twitter is still probably working out the kinks in managing their community (along with their downtime). Managing a large community means you have to piss people off once in a while, but it is a far more publicly defensible position to piss off the guy that is harassing a user, than piss off the user that is being harassed.

  197. Jen
    May 22, 2008

    This is extremely disappointing and rather disturbing. I’ll be following this one.

  198. Struan
    May 22, 2008

    Reblogged your post. This is utterly disgraceful – hope it gets resolved soon. (Reblogged here:

  199. CSSquirrel » Blog Archive » Twitter Behaving Badly
    May 22, 2008

    […] However, I’ll explain the essence of it. Twitter user Arial Waldman described recently in her blog the harassment she’s received via that service. Harassment that violates Twitter’s […]

  200. Max Hawkins
    May 22, 2008

    The only thing I like about Twitter is it is small, and it can be accessed in loads of different ways. But the downtimes and this just make me want to go to something else. Come on Twitter, shape up!

  201. Ariel Waldman
    May 22, 2008

    @MsK I have talked to the Confessions site in the past and they were more responsive in banning the IP address and deleting the messages. I didn’t include them in this post because they were not the issue. The harassing user was using a different account before harassments started coming in on the Confession account.

  202. Clintus
    May 22, 2008

    Bad form indeed.

  203. A joke?
    May 22, 2008

    If you knew people at Pownce during this incident, you are already not impartial to your “article”.

  204. desu
    May 22, 2008

    when will people learn???
    IT IS A PRIVATE WEBSITE, they don’t have to enforce squat if they don’t feel like it. You don’t like it? you’re free to take your business elsewhere… oh that’s right you don’t pay jack for the service.

  205. Leonwestbrook
    May 22, 2008

    I’m sorry. Just because someone called you a “cunt” doesn’t mean its harassment.

    I’m a black guy who does videos on youtube and sometimes get N-word bombs being dropped on me. I report them to youtube, but really what is the use?

    Twitter was right about this. Unless they were posting your personal contact info like your phone number or address, it isn’t’ a bannable offense.

    Bad comments are all over the internet, its the nature of the beast. Block the person and get over it.

  206. Kelvin Yong
    May 22, 2008

    I’ve tweet about this… and real shame to see Twitter isn’t as responsive as they meant to be from their TOS… real slack, real useless… real coward!

  207. Borob
    May 22, 2008

    @Arial: you must be kidding, why don’t you sue them?

    @fsda: the right of free speech does not give you the right to say anything you like. It gives you responsibilities too! To take care of other people! Just ask Theo van Gogh…

  208. Emanuel
    May 22, 2008

    I’m glad they’re not banning these users.

    Do not every think you deserve the right to not be offended; otherwise there is no such thing as freedom of speech.

  209. Joey
    May 22, 2008

    I signed up for a twitter account and have yet to really use it…after this I will decline. Not like Myspace or any other social sites really have it all figured out, most of them have censored unnecessarily or banned people without good reasons, but who needs another one, especially when they don’t even have the sack to attempt control over their users irresponsibility.

  210. Peter
    May 22, 2008

    I’d think this makes Twitter a party to the harassment, and subject to legal action just as the harasser.

    I wonder how Jack’s view would change if he was the victim of this harassment, instead of merely facilitating someone else’s harassment of his customer.

  211. robb
    May 22, 2008

    wow, major media is starting to pick up on this. i bet it’s gonna hurt more than a piddly little lawsuit. what a douche.

  212. nick
    May 22, 2008

    Someone called you a cunt? OHMYGOD. ITS THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD. Live with it.

  213. Television Spy
    May 22, 2008

    That’s quite sad actually, I’m sure with enough pressure they will do something.

  214. Nestor
    May 22, 2008

    You should sue them for not taking action. Then ‘Jack’ would feel pretty stupid..

  215. root
    May 22, 2008

    Why does Twitter even post a ToS if they don’t intend to enforce it? They probably thought that ToS was some tool that could protect them from being sued (kind of a “we’re not guilty of anything you do here” contract), but didn’t add any specific requirements on their part.
    I had decided to give Twitter a try this week, but on the same day closed my account. After reading this, I’m glad I did.

    @nick: it’s not about being called anything, it’s about a service provider not following their own ToS.

  216. nick
    May 22, 2008

    Hahah. Sue them? Are you stupid? No. Probably just American. That’s the answer to everything in life, it seems. Face it. There are some people in life who don’t like you. If the internet bothers you that much, GTFO. THIS IS LIFE. YOU WON’T SUCCEED BY BEING A SISSY.

  217. Joe User
    May 22, 2008

    Nobody, but absolutely nobody, sues twitter-like sites for having their accounts nuked.
    This is just absolute bullshit on their part. Either than, or you haven’t managed to
    get past the tier-1 morons to someone with half a clue. If they truly have
    “tasked” their “lawyers” then someone at twitter has actually talked to an
    attorney and the attorney must have told them that they were full of shit.
    That they continue to be full of shit indicates that nobody has talked to an
    actual trained attorney.

  218. nick
    May 22, 2008

    @root: “not following their own ToS”? Because it explicitly states that if you are a bit rude, they will be forced to immediately ban you? No. The user is not following their ToS. But they aren’t required to do anything about it.

  219. Joseph Hunkins
    May 22, 2008

    Ariel – as the community manager of Pownce you must have dealt with similar situations. Are you sure Pownce would ban this type of abuser?

  220. Tina
    May 22, 2008

    If someone is beating you up do you stand there and take it? I should hope not. So, if you are being “harrassed” so bad, why would you continue using the same name & site? Isn’t that being a glutton for punishment? Twitter is free – you are an invited guest using the service, not a rightful owner.

  221. Parky
    May 22, 2008

    Oops. I set up the wrong name on the Twitter Account. Can you please point to ? Thanks.

  222. Michelle / chelpixie
    May 22, 2008

    A couple more notes to add:

    A) @dayngr dealt with the same issues a few weeks ago, Twitter basically blew her off too.

    B) Twitter can and will ban someone without fear of lawsuits because they did, ban @foulbastard.

    This isn’t the first time that it’s happened, it’s likely not to be the last. I just hope that Ariel can get Twitter to take action so no one else will suffer from being harassed.

  223. Twitter and responsibility at j4mie dot org
    May 22, 2008

    […] Waldman claims she was harassed on Twitter, and Twitter refused to ban the user responsible. This has caused a huge outcry across […]

  224. Zany
    May 22, 2008

    I laughed my pants out reading this story … it’s almost too sci-fi to be true ….. a website scared to take actions although it has the TOS on his side.

    Twitter … you suck big time if this is the actual case.

  225. Jay
    May 22, 2008

    @fsda and others claiming free speech.

    Thomas is correct. The first amendment outlines the government’s relationship with its citizens.

    Last time I checked, Twitter was not the U.S. Government, though maybe like Facebook and Myspace their giving all our info to them anyway…

    So, please, if you’re going to claim free speech, at least have the decency to read the Bill of Rights.

    As to whether or not a word in and of itself is harassment, I believe the courts favor context, which is to say that getting called a cunt by your lover is not harassment. But, conversely, being called a cunt by someone who is hell bent on maligning you can be seen as harassment.

    Ariel strikes as a woman more than capable of making this distinction.

    Which is more than I can say for some of the men – and a few women – commenting here.
    Same for the N-bomb.

  226. Jay
    May 22, 2008

    My apologies.

    The sentence, “Same for the N-bomb” should have followed this paragraph.

    As to whether or not a word in and of itself is harassment, I believe the courts favor context, which is to say that getting called a cunt by your lover is not harassment. But, conversely, being called a cunt by someone who is hell bent on maligning you can be seen as harassment.

  227. Jeremy Franklin
    May 22, 2008

    This could turn into a big problem with Twitter. I do not see a possible mass exodus from the service because most people are sheep and have no spine. I am glad to see Ariel is not. I know I don’t want to leave Twitter, but they should at least honor their TOS. If not on the wording of the TOS, at least on a moral ground of civility. Dissent and heated discussion is cool, but such words are not.

  228. Andrew
    May 22, 2008

    what a bunch of pricks at twitter

  229. Alex
    May 22, 2008

    Awww poor baby – why is it always women posting this stuff about being horribly offended by online trash talking? You always have the option to ignore someone, do that instead of making your insecurity everyone else’s problem.

  230. Patrick Cooper
    May 22, 2008

    Cyndy: “Keep in mind that they deleted Loren Feldman’s “Shelisreal” account, but that was a much bigger voice. I’m guessing they decided to hedge their bets on this one assuming no one would notice.”

    Maybe, but I’m not so sure. Loren Feldman is constantly harassing people from his personal account (1938media), and they haven’t deactivated that.

    I suspect they’re just following the “impersonation” restriction, but not the “harassment” one.

  231. Dominic Jones
    May 22, 2008

    Ariel, Thank you for standing up and speaking out. Twitter’s management have no moral compass. And as the father of a you girl, I cannot use a service that has no respect for victims of bullies.

  232. Brad
    May 22, 2008

    I’ll be honest, this really just seems like someone whining that a service won’t fix something you should really do yourself. The banning harassment you have sighted isn’t much. Just ignore it, your email is on your website, i doubt the fact someone posted it on twitter makes a difference as its already very public. Maybe you where that person who runs to the teacher whenever you heard a bad word back in school.

  233. Bob
    May 22, 2008

    Wow, what a rotten response. My advice to you is to try and get some publicity. I’d attempt to get in touch with Leo Laporte and/or Kevin Rose. Leo, in particular, is always going on about twitter. And, I’d bet that a good share of twitter’s customers listen to his podcasts. I’d bet that a few negative words from him would get their attention. Trouble is, he’s probably always fielding complaints from people who feel they’ve been done wrong by a tech company.

  234. John
    May 22, 2008

    We could launch a massive counter attack! Give us the users name, and we’ll show them what social networking really is! Everyone with a twitter account can non-stop pester the person until they drop their account. Then all of us will quit using Twitter to show them the power of their users. Companies who don’t care about their customers don’t deserve to exist.

  235. YoYo
    May 22, 2008

    Are you a cunt?

  236. Dawn
    May 22, 2008

    Heartening to know that you spoke out, kept records, and was/are proactive in maintaining your dignity. Good for You!

  237. Josh
    May 22, 2008

    I was thinking about trying out Twitter. Not anymore, why would I? Sorry for your troubles.

  238. Anonymous
    May 22, 2008

    I say post this person name/email and let the internet do the rest.

  239. Ryan MF
    May 22, 2008

    So I read about 1/3 of the comments before I couldn’t keep myself from scrolling down to write this. I apologize if I’m repeating things that have been said in the bottom 2/3.

    Issues of legality and morality aside, Twitter’s response to this is completely baffling. Some of you have attempted to make the argument that Twitter assessed that the potential legal fees involved in fighting a hypothetical lawsuit wouldn’t be worth the ban. REALLY?

    It wouldn’t be worth keeping Ariel from writing about this, when she is connected enough in this community to spur EVERY other talking head (or blogging head) to parrot it and push it up the TechMeme ranks? That’s not a concern when Twitter is already engaged in a full-blown PR meltdown?

    Or how about the threats (well intended as they may be) of techno-vigilantism, with individuals offering their services to hack Twitter’s DB and exact retribution on the harasser? Yes, I realize most threats of this nature are empty, but there’s bound to be someone out there who IS capable of such an act, and maybe they read this post, and *maybe* they’re fans of Ariel and think this guy’s an asshole. Twitter shouldn’t be at all concerned about intruders digging around their system when they can’t keep the damn thing up for 48 hours on its own?

    And after pulling in $15m in new capital, does anyone honestly think that Twitter JUST CANNOT SPARE a few grand to *MAYBE* deal with some anonymous pest who *MIGHT* file a lawsuit for being banned, assuming that such a troll would have the sophistication or funds to accomplish such a task?

    I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.

    Ariel, I hope this comes to an acceptable resolution for you soon. And for all of us, I hope Twitter finds a way to get their act together.

  240. Nathan
    May 22, 2008

    On behalf of all other human beings who aren’t bozos and losers and half-wits like YoYo and Brad and all the rest of wankers (mostly male), I would sincerely like to apologize that you have to put up with this crap.

    To the boys at twitter, you can’t run twitter properly and you certainly can’t make good decisions. What exactly are you good at.

    If I was one of the VC’s I’d be looking to replace some faces there.

  241. Nathan
    May 22, 2008

    Who are the VCs? I’d like to let them know what kind of dorks they’ve just thrown $15 million at.

  242. debutaunt
    May 22, 2008

    repost my other comment here as well. Btw, how does *anyone* aside from the Twitter employees know that Ariel didn’t just fake this whole thing to attract attention to her or her blog? Her blog is a little more racy and NSFW, so why not up her hits? Twitter knows who this person is via IP address (it was easy enough for me to find the profile) and based on their TOS, the profile could have been deleted solely for the many spam tweets (e.g. free ringtones, pharma ads, etc) I’m not like out to get Ariel or anything and I’ve had my own stalker or ten in my internet life, but it would be easy enough to fakeastalker. I don’t always believe the hype. Besides, the profile has 750 people following it. I am a newb and recognized a few names. What does that say about the community if they are following such lame and disgusting tweets? I hate e-stalking. But if you give a story/stalker attention, they love it. I would have just kept after Twitter, but not been so public about it. But that’s just my style – I don’t feed trolls anymore. P.S. As far as an employer googling her name and finding the rants, um, have you all *seen* her blog. It’s pretty um… sexual? I am not a prude, but an employer can see that the rants are stupid and harassing, but what will they think about her blog?

  243. Who Said Web 2.0 is Safe? « NinjaRadio
    May 22, 2008

    […] Twitter refuses to uphold terms of service Posted by Ninja Filed in Web 2.0 ·Tags: cyber harrassement […]

  244. Twitter may have more serious issues than its downtime » VentureBeat
    May 22, 2008

    […] While we crack a lot of jokes about Twitter’s uptime and go on about its potential valuation, it’s easy to forget that as with many communication tools, there is the potential for real, troubling issues. One of those came to light today when Twitter user Ariel Waldman spoke out the harassment she is receiving from other users of the service. […]

  245. muaythai
    May 22, 2008

    You’re in a bad situation and obviously not getting much help. I can’t read all the replies here, but I can’t believe no one has suggested simply going after your stalker. Seriously, if this was happening to my wife or one of my friends, I’d be going to this guys house with a friend and a baseball bat. I know it doesn’t solve the greater problem and yes, it involves a little more than sitting behind a computer but hey, I guess that’s why I live in Oakland and not SF ;-)

  246. Jon Husband
    May 22, 2008

    VV Says:
    May 22nd, 2008 at 1:52 pm
    Someone calling you a cunt isn’t harassment. Cunt. :p

    Repeated instances is .. it poisons the environment. There’s lots of case law. Look it up.

  247. Steve
    May 22, 2008

    I think I know why you are crying about Twitter. You are a “community manager for Pownce” and would love to see Twitter fail.

  248. Allison
    May 22, 2008

    Wow, I can’t believe there are people who are actually defending Twitter. I think Twitter ought to live up to their Terms of Service, otherwise they never should have promised it. It’s not like you’re forcing them to do something – they said themselves they don’t like the behavior and now they’re going back on their word! I love the Twitter service, but between the service interruption and now this, I really, really dislike the people running it. I hope the stalker eventually leaves you alone, but I really hope Twitter gets its act together in the event that something like this – but more serious, like a threat of personal harm – should happen again.

  249. Duane
    May 22, 2008

    Well, it’s obviously not cool you had to deal with that. But considering anyone can sign up for a twitter account at any time, what do you think the end result of banning that person would have been? Don’t you think they just would have signed up again and started over?

    Twitter isn’t a large company, so it’s pretty hard to police millions of users, a good portion of which probably use words such as cunt. I assume you blocked the person, in which case you personally shouldn’t be bothered any more. I believe freedom of speech protects them (in public forums) from voicing their opinions, in so long as they do not spread hate.

  250. Twitter Fails to Enforce TOS — Specifically, Harassment.
    May 22, 2008

    […] goes into a detailed account of the situation on her blog. Essentially, the attacker has been using Flickr and Twitter in conjunction to sling insults and […]

  251. Erik Jonasson » The Internet Harassment Culture
    May 22, 2008

    […] buzzing about regarding internet harassment and micoblogging site Twitter. Specifically, one user has posted about Twitter’s unwillingness to follow through on their terms of service, which state: […]

  252. Joe Manna
    May 22, 2008

    @Duane, Free Speech is up to a network’s discretion, when hosted on a private network. (Twitter isn’t on a government network, that is.)

    Also terminating (deleting) user accounts is effective when done consistently and swiftly.

    I shared my perspective on this. I support you Ariel. Twitter ought to enforce their TOS, because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of Legal liability (which they inherently have protections).

  253. Hmm
    May 22, 2008

    “cunt” sounds accurate. Stop snitching. Get off the tubes.

  254. Pat
    May 22, 2008

    Maybe it’s someone at Twitter that is harrassing you.

  255. Danny!
    May 22, 2008

    What the fuck’s wrong with you that you inspire so much harassment? I bet you’re making this all up for attention. Either way, I could care less. Here’s an idea, if it bothers you so much, stop using Twitter.

    Oh, but then you wouldn’t get your gossip fast enough. Blarrrrg

  256. notes, thoughts, ideas and responses » FriendFeed! And Twitter? Continue To Butt Heads, Can They Form A Symbiotic Relationship?
    May 22, 2008

    […] their shortcomings and ask for help. Not helping their cause is a claim made by Ariel Waldman that Twitter refuses to uphold their terms of service. It seems Twitter can never move two steps forward without taking one step back and I hope their […]

  257. Eguled
    May 22, 2008

    Read the article, read all the comments. Sorry to hear all this has happened to you. Having said that, I think you are barking up the wrong tree. If this person seriously wronged you, then file a lawsuit against the person who you allege harrassed you. Even if it is a “John Doe” lawsuit, and have the court require Twitter provide you with the information related to the account. This should be between you and the person who you say wronged you. Also, I do have to say a few things come to mind: I’m usually fairly liberal and open minded about things, but you do come off as sounding more than a little whiney. (Actually many of the people commenting here come off sounding even more whiney.) You sound like you’ve led a sheltered life, maybe protected by the bubble of a university setting. The real world can be rough and tumble, sometimes mean. I don’t see anything wrong with the guy publishing your full name and email address if they are already readily published by you on the net. If he put your soc sec # or credit card # or threatened to hurt you or something like that, I’d say those would cross the line. But calling you bad names? Wow, rough day. Does that suck that he called you bad names? Probably. But I really think you should take that up with him directly. Mean people suck. Bullies are even worse. You can’t expect that every time someone says something mean to you that the institution will come and make the bully go away, like they did at the university.

  258. Charles
    May 22, 2008

    Boy Eguled sure makes a lot of assumptions.

    Without knowing Ariel, he assumes that she went to a university and that she complained to university administrators about someone bullying her.

    That is either a whole lot of projection on his part, or he is the stalker surfacing in this comment thread to get in a few more digs at Ariel.

    Lemme see if I can play the same “assumption game”: Emuled seems to me like an overweight geek living in his mother’s basement, who is smart but not as smart as he thinks he is. He has not gotten laid since he went to Tijuana about 12 years ago, and those Polaroids from that encounter are fading in his grubby hands with continually dirty fingernails. He has filed a lawsuit against his dry cleaner because they cleaned a “special stain” out of his polyester slacks. He believes this action is entirely justified and should not in any way be viewed as an “appeal to the authorities”.

  259. Angela Q
    May 22, 2008

    It’s pretty clear to me that the reason they will never do anything about this is that the harrasser is one of them. I deal with a site where several women have had their personal info compromised by an employee and nothing was done until the women called in lawyers.

  260. Bernardo Carvalho
    May 22, 2008

    Sorry, but I have to ask – Do you have examples of the offending messages? Is the harrassment on Flickr and Twitter related? Also, why do you get harrassed so much?

    Really hard to take sides, your info lacks context.

  261. Eguled
    May 22, 2008

    Charles, that is precious. I am seriously laughing at your post.

  262. Eguled
    May 22, 2008

    Angela Q: What evidence do you have that the harrasser is one of the people at Twitter? That’s a serious accusation to make. Does your statement give ground for Twitter to sue you?

  263. Violetta
    May 22, 2008

    Wow. That’s unbelievable.

    Just today I wanted to report a Twitter user that uses his Twitter profile for promoting his commercial pornography site, and I just couldn’t find a button to do so!

    I guess that’s the system Twitter is operating under. First don’t give you a transparent way to report wrong things (no button, form to fill out etc.), and if you reach them per email they just ignore your complains.

    I’m just wondering what would happen if there was a stalker for Twitter employees. I bet that person would be deleted in no second!

  264. Alex
    May 22, 2008

    You should write them a letter threatening to sue them for allowing the harassment to continue. If it continues say you will also contact the appropriate authorities to enforce harassment protections. It doesn’t even have to be based in any legal fact. They don’t want to be involved or get bad press from a lawsuit; this leaves them to choice of banning the guy or potentially facing a legal mess (they’ll chose the ban option).

  265. Nobody
    May 22, 2008

    Aw, you want an internet band-aid?

  266. nmb
    May 22, 2008

    fuck twitter, i’ll cancel my account imediately.

  267. TubeCams
    May 22, 2008

    So what’s this all about. I must be missing a bunch of the background to this story because from I read here, you can’t handle someone calling you a cunt or stating that you like lesbian porn. Twitter is not your site, this seems to be your site. Just stop using twitter. Who gives a shit if someone calls you a cunt or me a dick? I don’t let these things bother me. I would suggest you stop bitching about this and move on with your own site. Look at the popularity this has brought to this site, or at least this page on your site. You’re using what you’re complaining about for your own benefit. I suppose you’ll hide this under the guise of “bringing awareness to the issue.” I’ll also bet you delete this comment.

  268. Robert Simplicio
    May 22, 2008

    Now, I’m not Twitter, and to each their own. I feel that it is in horrible taste, and that is only based upon your e.g. Ariel’s account of this. We have no record publicly available to review, because as I recall from hunting this down, the user voluntarily removed their account or something to that effect in March.

    Now, again, I’m not Twitter’s CEO. But if I were, or I were their community manager, I would have taken decisive action. That’s what feels like it’s missing here. Action. Their in analysis paralysis. So what if you’re a small company? I’m a one-person show. If I’m running the service, and you get a complaint filed against you, you will get a stern warning and referral to my TOS. If the user so much as looked the wrong way at anyone, especially the person who reported to offense, off to the bit bucket it would go. And, might I add, I would have taken screenshots/DB dumps, etc. for forensic analysis off-line or to back up my actions and decisions if I ever felt the need or want, or subpeona, to defend them.

    My wife and I, and many other friends, have been moderators in practice or in fact in many other communities that could be construed as “communication utilities”. I just truly feel that Twitter has dropped the ball here. And evidentally did it mid-last year, no less. To a valued user. Or what should be a valued user. Now, I will not stop using Twitter. They do that for me involuntarily all the time. I will not comment on that but to say that if it were my service, it would not have this issue as I would have found ways to fix it by now (being at least a year on from the SXSW blow-up).

    There are no easy answers. Saying that you will not get involved, or saying this is not straightforward is a cop-out. Plain and simple. You are a human being, not a communication service. Business don’t run businesses, people do. Communication services are only as good as the value they add. At the end of the day, you have to do what is right to you, not what you think is the safe course, or the legal course, or whatever excuse you’re going to hide behind. Be men, and human, and do the right thing.

  269. Rob
    May 22, 2008

    sorry about the super long URL, should have used tinyurl

  270. Robert Simplicio
    May 22, 2008

    If the shoe were on the other foot, and they felt someone violated them, the company, the same way that I’m sure you feel violated, they would have had their attorneys send (at the least) a cease and desist letter. I suggest you do the same. It’s time to escalate it beyond the CEO. OK, that makes no sense. But it did when I wrote it, so I’ll leave it.

  271. Eguled
    May 22, 2008

    Tubecams has a good point. If someone calls me a dick, I would just laugh and move on. So someone called you a cunt. Big deal. Seriously.

  272. Parkhill Venture Counsel » Blog Archive » Same Issue, Different Worlds
    May 22, 2008

    […] has been a dust-up in certain corners of the Internet recently over Twitter’s alleged failure to deal appropriately with […]

  273. lane hartwell
    May 22, 2008

    after reading more background on this, I think I’ve changed my mind a bit.

    I think it’s become quite common for people to toss around terms like “harassment” and so on. I’ve seen people claim they are being stalked and then when you ask them what that means they say “oh, they leave comments on my photos” or something to that effect.

    I think there is a huge difference.

    As unpleasant as it is sometimes, people are going to express opinions about you that might hurt you. They might call you names, or talk about your appearance, or whatever. Those comments might have no basis in fact at all, but still, it happens.

    The internet is a breeding ground for this because people don’t have to reveal who they are. So they hide behind that and call you names. It’s cowardly and immature and can be hurtful and painful, but is is harassment? I’m not sure. If you turn off your computer, does this problem cease? If you stop posting on twitter, does it follow you?

    I was bashed by a mob of anonymous people for weeks a few months ago. They posted on my blog, called me names, sent me e-mails, and posted misinformation on their blogs about me. It was hard to take sometimes. I allowed all the comments to stay on my blog because in the end I truly believed that those comments would speak far louder about the character of the posters than anything I could ever say. Many people actually spoke out for me because of this.

    I also think it’s important that people take responsibility for what they put out there. If you put online things that are controversial, people are going to have strong opinions about it, both good and bad. Do you really want to control that?

    I’m not against you, Ariel, but I’m not sure I think Twitter has handled it poorly. It might be really hurtful and annoying that someone is calling you names, but is it bona fide harassment? I’m not sure. If they ban that account for name calling, where does it stop? I’m not sure I want that kind of twitter.

  274. Mom
    May 22, 2008

    Yes, this is Ariel’s real mother. Those of you who are easily manipulated by media driven celebrity conspiracy theories or actually believe there is no such thing as integrity any longer will ignore this post. Too bad for you.

    I am not here to comment on twitter, TOS, freedom of speech, the “sexiness” of ShakeWellBeforeUse or if Ariel is a c—. If I said she wasn’t, you wouldn’t believe me anyway.

    I CAN attest to one thing. It IS a fact Ariel’s stalker has been after her for over 3 years beginning in her home town—before she had a high profile on the web. I have seen the physical evidence and know it to be threatening. Ariel did nothing to initiate this situation, the person in question is mentally unbalanced and deeply insecure. The person found out where she lived and made it known to her. Ariel has done everything within her power (talking to the person and friends of the person, police, legal advice, adjustment of lifestyle) to defuse the situation all to no avail. I had thought when she moved to the city, these attacks would end, but they have not. There is more than mere name calling going on. There is a history of vindictive harrassment. Whatever else you think about how she is handling it is your opinion, but she did NOT make this up.

    Since I have known Ariel all her life I can tell you one thing. She plays by the rules. She does not manipulate people or situations for her own gain. And she is too smart to screw up her own reputation as a consultant in social media to try and play competing services against each other. All speculation on that account is ridiculous.

    And Mom to Ariel: you could have told me you were going to blog this rather than let me randomly find out about it on my own.