Monday, November 10, 2014

Twitter launches new tool that lets women report harassment.

Some question whether “social media” sites understand the full power they possess. In the early stages of development the innovators conceive of all these wondrous opportunities and beliefs of all the good that can be accomplished through the use of social media. The ability to communicate with loved ones and friends on a moment’s notice, the ability to track information at the tip of your fingers, and the ability to react to the world and in turn have the world react to you on a moment’s notice; all of these issues are powerful concepts that can intoxicate the individual user. In the development stage, did any of the designers ask themselves, “Is there any way my creation can do harm?” I doubt there was much consideration on the negative impact social media can produce during this initial phase. Now that the beasts have been unleashed, the social media outlets are encountering the dark side of their creation. In an effort to react to the misuse of its site, twitter has teamed up with a nonprofit organization in an attempt to combat and learn about the negative effects produced through its venue. In the article,, twitter made an attempt to address the growing prominence of the troubling issue of gender abuse towards women through their media. Twitter has released a new tool that will enable users to report harassment that is occurring or has occurred through their social media site.
As they team up with WAM (Women, Action & Media) twitter will attempt to monitor reported abuses and take appropriate reactive steps to curb and endeavor to eliminate harassment through their site altogether. WAM will monitor the complaints filed through the new tool and help the executives at this social media giant begin to understand the methods, intent and disturbing outcomes that are fabricated through social media. WAM will fully admit they have no power to determine twitters official response to a given situation. However, they do take great interest in the ability to educate and influence the policy development as this endeavor moves forward. The hope is that other social media outlets will follow suit and begin tracking abuse issues and responding appropriately to those that commit these despicable acts.
The government’s efforts to respond to the extreme cases that have occurred are to either create new legislation or expand on existing legislation that criminalizes these acts. As many know government is usually slow to respond to new technologies and the reactions involve drawn out, laborious actions to create legislation that addresses these growing trends.

I would hope in the future, that as software developers consider creating and enhancing communications through a social venue, they consider the dark side of human nature. The understanding that their conception can enhance the life of a user as well as extract a toll on the individual, is important to the extent that twitter will be willing to enforce any such remedies they devise to tackle these issues. Twitter’s reaction and partnership to this growing trend is a start in the right direction. The fact that twitter is taking action through the creation of their tool and is willing to listen and learn is a positive step in the right direction.

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