Anna Sheffer
October 29, 2018 1:55 pm
Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Twitter is currently in hot water with many users for a (rumored) potential change: getting rid of the “like” button. The Telegraph reports that at a Twitter event during the week of October 22nd, CEO Jack Dorsey suggested he would eliminate the platform’s like button “soon” to enhance user experience. However, the Twitter communications team remains vague about this plan.

Even though eliminating the like button is just a rumor for now, many are pointing out that Twitter has way more important things it could and should be focusing on at the moment…like blocking white supremacists and domestic terrorists from spreading hate. As Wired reports, Cesar Sayoc, the man arrested for the recent attempted pipe-bomb attacks, was once reported to Twitter for his violent tweets, but the company apparently said his posts didn’t “violate community guidelines.”

If Dorsey and his team really want to improve discourse and the user experience on their site, we have a few suggestions:

1 Listen to users’ reports.

Taking reports about potentially dangerous Twitter users seriously is the first step to making Twitter safe for everyone, including women and people of color, who are often subjected to online harassment.

2 Ban Nazis and white supremacists.

Twitter’s rules prohibit abusive behavior, including harassment targeted at specific people or groups…so allowing white supremacists to use the site unchecked blatantly disregards that guideline. Plus, it’s legitimately dangerous. Online threats can lead to real-life danger if someone gets doxxed (aka their personal information is released online).

3 Don’t verify extremists.

Putting a little blue checkmark by someone’s name gives that person an air of authority and legitimacy. Verified extremists include conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter. The Independent notes that white supremacists Jason Kessler and Richard Spencer were also verified at one point, although their checkmarks have been revoked.

4 Stop suspending people for defending themselves.

Twitter has often been criticized for suspending users who try to defend themselves. In a New York Times op-ed published in November 2017, Thorne N. Melcher wrote that her account had been suspended when she called a troll “garbage” for harassing her. In October 2017, The Guardian reported that Rose McGowan was suspended for tweeting “Ben Affleck f*ck off” after he claimed not to know about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse.

Hopefully, Twitter’s new potential features will implement changes that are actually needed (as opposed to those that literally no one asked for). Only time will tell.

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