Sticks and stones may break your bones but words on Twitter can really hurt you.
One persistent, abusive troll can take down everything you built in the past year. He can drive away your followers, ruin your reputation and worst of all, push you to say something publicly that is completely out of character.
Coming back from a Twitter slip is tough and can lead to complete social surrender. Before that happens, pay a visit to the new Twitter Safety Center. This easy-to-read resource has everything you need to manage your Twitter experience, prevent problems, and report abuse. It’s aimed at teens, parents and educators but it’s a valuable tool for anyone using Twitter personally or professionally.
The focus of the center is digital citizenship. Twitter is asking every user to take responsibility not only for their own actions but for keeping an eye out in aide of others. That means every Twitter account is both protected and suspect.
Twitter handles more than 500 million Tweets a day, so they desperately need additional eyeballs if they’re going to keep the network abuse free. To encourage a higher level of participation, Twitter has simplified their reporting system. It’s now more mobile-friendly, they require less information upfront, and they’ve made it easier for people who witness abuse to get involved. This is especially important for parents and teachers who are aware of online bullying.
Spam is the most innocuous item on the Twitter abuse list but it’s the most widespread, so it affects the largest number of people. Twitter knows that too much spam can drive users away, so their computers use a set of “automated signals” to scan and remove spam before a human sees it and reports it. Too many Tweet-repeats, links to low quality websites and multiple references to suspect products can get you banned even if you weren’t actually spamming.
Humans have an even lower tolerance than Twitter’s spiders, so make sure you’re mixing up the message and doing more than just blasting out Tweets about your own product 24-7. Even if you don’t get reported as a spammer, followers will leave over that kind of behavior and they won’t come back.
If you’ve ever been pulled into a war of words on Twitter, this part is for you.
Twitter blocking is now more sophisticated and they’re working on adding additional functionality to your blocked accounts page (located under settings). Blocking prevents the other person from contacting you via an “@” mention. It also keeps them from viewing your profile. Blocking is less about cutting off a person’s access as it is about saving you from yourself. If you don’t see the barrage of barbs, you can’t react to them. Reputation saved.
Twitter’s latest blocking tool was designed to help social media managers with extremely active accounts. Now, you can export and share your block list with others. This will prevent trolls from hopping over to a related account once you’ve blocked them on the main channel.
Important note: blocking isn’t a customer service option. If you have a large number of unhappy Tweeters, you need to look internally for the source of the problem. Blocking is for those occasions when a person goes beyond the boundaries of an understandable customer complaint. Some do it out of anger. Some do it because they enjoy being the center of attention and others have deeper issues that won’t ever be resolved online. Escalations happen fast. Be prepared to block and report before things go too far.
Combating the Dark Side
Twitter’s Safety Center was built to combat more than just annoying spammers and self-centered loudmouths. At the heart, is a set of instructions we hope you’ll never need; dealing with violent threats, mentions of self-harm and concerns about imminent, physical danger.
Protecting your own reputation is important, but as a member of a global community, looking out for others is just as important. No one wants to have a business meeting in a bad neighborhood. Help keep the Twitter streets clean and abuse free.