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social media

Deplatforming Hate and Harassment

How to more effectively report abuse to social media companies like Twitter.

Earlier this year, I detailed a simple technique for deanonymizing scam sites on CloudFlare, by getting the back-end webserver to email you and reveal the server’s IP address (so you can forward your complaints to their ISP).

In a similar vein, I’d like to explain a simple technique for increasing the likelihood that your abuse reports on social media websites like Twitter get taken seriously.

Don’t Use the Easy Button

Every tweet (except your own) has a Report Tweet link attached to it. The user interface is different on web and mobile, but most people know how to find it.

The problem with this “easy button” is twofold:

  1. It’s low-effort and high-bandwidth, so a lot of people use it and therefore the signal-to-noise ratio isn’t very high.
  2. The “report tweet” workflow lets you select from one of a few narrowly defined categories of abuse without giving you any space to explain why it’s abusive.

    For example: A lot of anti-furry hate is a dogwhistle for ableist or queerphobic rhetoric. Without knowing that context, how do you expect the folks handling abuse reports for social media companies to make the correct choice?

Instead, File an Abuse Report

This is actually a separate thing, and the link to the harassment report form is here. (This is one of many forms you can file with Twitter’s support team.)

Not only do you get to click the radio buttons that the Quick and Easy path allows, you also get to fill in a description of the problem.

A screenshot of the harassment report form.

The difference here isn’t theoretical; a concise explanation of the problem is the difference between your report being ignored and this:

If you have any friends that are frequent targets of social media harassment, and their reports aren’t taken seriously, share this article with them.

Hug?
Art by Khia.

(That being said, I’m really sorry this is even necessary.)

What About Automation?

One motivation to still use the “easy button” when reporting abuse is if you’re hoping to trigger some automated mechanism (i.e. “If 3 different accounts report this as abuse, suspend their account until someone can investigate”).

In that case, press that easy button to your heart’s content.

By Soatok

Security engineer with a fursona. Ask me about dholes or Diffie-Hellman!

2 replies on “Deplatforming Hate and Harassment”

The easy button doesn’t work on Youtube… well, it does for comments, but it’s still considered ‘engagement’ by the algorithm. But on Twitter, it does sort tweets based upon the reaction it gets and what works are used. So it will drop reported tweets down below the food, and that’s a start.
Finding and reporting accounts engaging in brigading is more difficult than giving context to a single abusive threader. That’s the one I’m trying to figure out – many different accounts are used and they all repeat basically the same thing but I can’t always see the repeater.

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