How to Respond to Twitter’s Safety Updates

In a world that embraces and relies on freedom of expression, social platforms are charged with striking a balance between allowing free speech and taming the trolls. It’s a slippery slope when protecting users leads to blocking and banning abusers, but after several safety policy updates since its creation, Twitter released a blog this week saying they’re #NotTolerating harassment anymore.

Twitter brands itself as one of the quickest ways to see what everyone is talking about. It’s open to everyones’ opinion, which simultaneously makes it a safe and dangerous place—especially since the trend to abuse and harass others on the platform is growing according to Twitter. Because of this unfortunate trend, Twitter has created new ways to manage toxic tweets.

You can see their full blog here, but the gist of it is this:

  • Cracking down on suspended users and keeping them from creating new accounts
  • Removing abusive tweets from showing up in searches
  • Collapsing potentially abusive and low-quality tweets.

This updated safety policy has interesting implications for how social platforms protect free speech, but what does it mean for social media marketers (who are often targeted by trolls in the face of bad press or targeted in general because people demonstrate complete lack of descent humanity on the internet time after time)? Is this the precedent we’ve been waiting for to finally silence, block, and report our haters? Speaking for social media professionals who work hard and care about their brands, I hate to say it, but no, not quite. And here’s why:

You have to take the good with the bad

Responding well to negative feedback can be a great way to improve your brand reputation. An open feedback loop, where your followers can communicate with your brand (good or bad) is extremely valuable. It gives you the opportunity to know what is frustrating your audience, fix the issue, and communicate with them. And even if your trolls can’t be consoled, your other (more sane) followers can see you made an effort.

It’s not personal

It may feel like it, but it’s not. You work hard. You like your brand. You spend 40 hours a week marketing the brand, but you are not the brand. At the end of the day, the trolls on twitter are not coming after you. Listen to the legit criticisms to make your brand better and try not to get discouraged by illegitimate critiques/borderline sociopathic behavior.

Let Twitter handle the trolls

Rejoice! With this new policy, the safe search engine will hopefully reduce traffic to toxic tweets. That being said, you can spend less time monitoring insane niche corners of the internet and spend more time doing anything else more productive.

At the end of the day, anyone who throws a tweet into the twitterverse subjects those 140 characters to a vast sea of opinionated users–which creates an interesting landscape for protecting free speech. And in our relatively small world of social media marketing, it has interesting implications as well. The important thing to remember is that Twitter’s new policy isn’t designed to shut down opinions. It’s designed to stop abuse, harassment, and threats. So while those tweets see less traffic, we can focus on more important things.


2 thoughts on “How to Respond to Twitter’s Safety Updates

  1. Thanks for this! I feel lucky that my Twitter experience has been great, but I have seen some trolling/spamming that is disheartening. I am glad Twitter is going to try to do better.
    FWIW I’m working on a project with the CanvasLMS to promote the use of Twitter in course spaces. I’m hoping this can be a way for the really great OU Twitter accounts (like OU Daily, OU Libraries, the museums, etc.) to reach a wider audience. I’m sharing the materials here
    and if you have any ideas or run into campus organizations using Twitter that would like to distribute their Twitter stream via a Canvas space, I’m glad to help!

  2. Hey Laura! That’s great to know. I’ll keep my eyes out for handles on campus that would be interested. Thanks for sharing!

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