Twitter says they are working to improve after #womenboycotttwitter

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Is your Twitter feed looking a bit sparse today? Some Twitter users are boycotting the platform on Friday, October 13, saying the platform’s anti-harassment efforts aren’t enough.

The boycott was initially sparked when actress Rose McGowan’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended. The suspension occurred after a string of Tweets from McGowan calling out sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. Because of the timing of the suspension, user Kelly Ellis (@justkelly_ok) started the now-trending #WomenBoycottTwitter for solidarity with “all the victims of hate and harassment Twitter fails to support.”

Twitter says that McGowan’s account was suspended because she posted a private phone number, which is against the platform’s terms of use. Her account was unlocked five to six hours later after the Tweet containing the phone number was removed.

Last year, Ellis spoke out on harassment on the platform after receiving a message from Twitter that the rape threats she reported didn’t violate Twitter rules. Now, the software engineer says that even while McGowan’s account was suspended, the rape threats the actress received stayed live on the platform.

The trending hashtag has highlighted a number of complaints, with some users claiming that Twitter doesn’t treat every user the same, locking some accounts and not others, and others saying that Twitter fails to respond appropriately to harassment and hate speech.

On Thursday, October 12, the official Twitter Safety account tweeted, “Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”

The hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter had generated more than 4,000 tweets on Friday, with some tweeting the hashtag before logging off on Thursday to participate in the boycott. Other users agreed with the reason but argued that staying silent for a day wasn’t the right way to work toward change, prompting additional hashtags like #AmplifyWomen and #WomenSpeakOut.

A recent Pew Research study suggests that a majority of internet users witness harassment. Twitter launched a tool earlier this year allowing users to report tweets with mentions. Late last year, Twitter rolled out a filter that allows users to mute Tweets with specific words — a change that came after several high profile users left the platform because of harassment and trolls.


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