Twitter refuses to uphold Terms of Service

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I've had an appallingly bad experience with Twitter's lack of community management. Please read this post for a summary of what I went through:

http://arielwaldman.com/2008/05/22/tw...

I think it's extremely important for Twitter to develop policies around their Terms of Service to stick by. In short, it's completely unacceptable for Twitter's users to be harassed to this level and have Twitter refuse to ban anyone for fear of being sued. Yahoo, Flickr, Pownce, and Digg do *not* take these kinds of TOS violations lightly and will ban users/content if there is even a question of harassment.

In fact, I would like to call out that Twitter can't be sued for banning users under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_...

As my lawyer wrote to me:
"It basically insulates any interactive computer service from liability for the postings of any of its users and gives it complete immunity anytime it removes user content because it is offensive. In fact, Section 230(c)(2) says expressly that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected."

This pretty clearly shields them from liability for removing posts and users who tweet offensive or harassing messages. Moreover, their own TOS says:

"We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason at any time."

Thus, legally, they are pretty much entitled to kill any account they want for any reason and there's not much legally anyone can do about it."
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Ariel Waldman

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While I agree that it is good to talk about this as a test of TOS, which I do congratulate Twitter for taking this step prior to allowing all these people access to a free service. I think the author's intent by starting this was to drive traffic to her blog. It is really a brilliant idea. That being said, it worked. This really isn't a concern for Twitter because they are IMO, 100% safe from any liability. As far as someone talking bad about you, well they are protected by free speech laws. To try to leverage the communal power to silence someone, I think, is abusing everyone's time. If you really felt that someone was talking soooo bad about you that you can't just ignore it, then take them to court. You would have to prove though that you had a loss and that what they said was for a FACT false. Good luck!
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jakemckee

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"I think the author's intent by starting this was to drive traffic to her blog."

Based on what, exactly? I'm assuming your own opinion and nothing else since you've shared nothing else.

And as far as leverage "communal power to silence", I'm curious... do you use a spam filter when you use email? Isn't that a form of "communal power meant to silence someone"?
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"Based on what, exactly? I'm assuming your own opinion and nothing else since you've shared nothing else. And as far as leverage" Based on the amount of "active" promotion by her on this topic. I'm curious... do you use a spam filter when you use email? Isn't that a form of "communal power meant to silence someone"? I don't see your point here. A spam filter is a utility for decision making. If you want to ignore someone you block them with your spam filter. In the case of a twitter account, you BLOCK a user, you don't voluntarily FOLLOW their tweets.
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jakemckee

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Ha ha ha - OK, so because she's fired up about this issue (and rightly so), she's just making the whole thing up in order to beef up her web stats? Whatever, dude. By that logic, the only reason you're participating in this very discussion is to get more attention to your profile.

My point about spam filtering, especially collaboratively based systems is that they too are using "communal power to silence someone" - namely the spammer. I'd hardly say this is an abuse of "everyone's time".

But ultimately, this is a pointless discussion - you've clearly made up your mind that Ariel is just making all this up in order to drive additional site traffic, and I just can't argue that point since you have your assumptions and I have mine. (They ARE assumptions)
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"They are protected by free speech laws."
Actually, no, they aren't. In a private domain, free speech doesn't apply, which is exactly why Twitter was able to have a clause in their TOS which sad they would remove someone if they were being abusive. Now they time comes to step up an enforce their TOS, they don't?

They can fall back on the idea of "well, we are strictly communications, we don't mess with content" all they want, but THEIR OWN RULES say otherwise.
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mdy

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Personally, I'd be worried if Twitter were to take on the role of content mediator, because it doesn't seem like a role that they can fulfill properly.

Take, for instance, the growing number of users who are tweeting in East Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese) and non-English (French, Dutch, Italian) languages. If they have a content dispute, how can someone make a judgment call about a tweet if they don't even understand what's being said?

Similarly, how can Twitter be expected to understand or appreciate the cultural differences of its global user base? Something that's offensive in one culture can be perfectly acceptable in another. [ Ex. calling a woman a witch may not mean anything in one culture, but they burn to death women who are suspected of being witches in other countries. ]

When as much as 50% of Twitter users only follow 10 people (source, 4mins) and pretty much only talk to their friends and family, do we still consider Twitter "a community"?

And what if the service grows to 10 million users, or 30 million, or 60 million? How many people would Twitter need to have on staff just to deal with all the content mediation issues that will be brought to them for review from all over the world?

Bottomline, I think they'd be setting themselves up for failure if they took on content mediation as a responsibility. Taking the stance that they are a communications utility seems like the only viable option open to them.
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mdoeff

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100% agree that conflict moderation at Twitter's scale is a huge challenge. You could make a case for Twitter hiring 10 people right now to perform this job full-time. And that group growing to 100 people a year from now. But is that really where we want Twitter to spend their $15 million? I'd rather see them invest in tools that allow the community to self-moderate. We also need a fix for known issues like the Track command not respecting the Block list.
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aldon Hynes

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Let me take a slightly different view on this as I described in my article Crossing the Chasm without Jumping the Shark

http://www.orient-lodge.com/node/2978

Based on Shirky's comments about moderation and the issues of moving from a community of early adopters to the early majority, I think it puts the issue into a broader context that should be helpful for Twitter and other companies that are bound to face this issue.
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acomputerpro

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Die thread... DIE! ... ... ... well... this reply certainly doesn't help the cause, if you post anything after it.
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Brian

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Caveat: I do not know what was actually said, and personally don't really care.

I don't see why this is such a big deal. If anyone feels genuinely harassed or threatened by a post on Twitter, they already have a legal way of dealing with this: contacting the police. If it's not "bad enough" to warrant police intervention, you can always sue the person involved for harassment, libel, defamation, etc. (Yes, I'm aware that figuring out who a person is based on their Twitter account is non-trivial, but it can be done through proper legal channels.)

Regarding Twitter's response: good for them. Twitter is relatively new, and, as such, their TOS are likely to change and evolve based on incidents like this. I don't consider this "lying"; the folks at Twitter are well within their rights to change their mind as to how involved they want to be with the content posted on their site. If you don't like that, don't use their (free!) service.
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1. getsatisfaction works a bit like twitter. If open discussion of a topic bothers you. you can always "unfollow" it.

2. getsatisfaction has something VERY relevant to Twitter & the TOS. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom on ~any~ page, there is a link to the Company-Customer PACT...

"Along with open, authentic communication comes the mutual responsibility to make it work. As each of us is both a customer and an employee, we share in the rewards and challenges of candor. By adopting the five practical measures, we can together realize a fundamental shift in our business relationships..."

ALL participants in this and other Twitter Topics here would do well to read it fully. And Twitter Inc. would do well to add a signature or two. And perhaps print it out and post it in their offices.
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acomputerpro

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We're beating a dead horse here at this point.. don't ya think? All that's being accomplished now, is that we are filling up the GetSatifaction.com servers and because of the load, soon it will go down daily just like Twitter. Oh and when I'm referring to "the load" ... never mind... no throwing salt in the wounds.
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jakemckee

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We're not beating a "dead" horse. A horse, perhaps, but certainly not a dead one. There has been no issue resolution here other than Twitter team offering a stab at something a great many feel is unacceptable. If they're "done" with this conversation, then that speaks volumes.

As far as putting load on GetSatisfaction, well they seem to be handling it fine and this kind of discussion is exactly what they were built for, no?
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acomputerpro

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It appears to me, based on Ev's statement... that "Twitter has spoken." I don't expect them to do anything further. Why should they? Just because Ariel started a thread on GetSatisfaction.com (perhaps the longest one in history) doesn't mean she or anyone that agrees with her will get the satisfaction. I think any satisfaction in this case, belongs to Twitter... and me (because Twitter makes me happy.)
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Prokofy

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Er, when were we going to learn that Ariel Waldman is *Community Manager at Pownce* which is a competitive service to Twitter -- where people go when Twitter is down?! Good Lord, the OP might have said "As manager of another community where I think we do it better and where I'd like to see the whole industry go -- or else we'll steal your customers" etc.

That conflict of interest in itself should raise eyebrows here, but there's a lot more to it, if you buy Ariel's claim that her job position and commercial interests aren't at play here.

She's clearly a passionate believer in the odious role of the community manager -- a role that has been badly performed in too many contexts to count across the Metaverse and blogosphere -- on MMORPG forums. on forums and company blogs for virtual worlds like Second Life, on social media sites, on individual A-list bloggers' sites and their ustream shows -- you name it. Community managers are not elected or accountable and only serve their own interests and those of the company they work for. They feign an advocacy for the community, but it's a very flawed model and they are not honest brokers.

Nobody feels the need for such an explicit and intrusive role on Twitter, and thank God for it. To be sure, we have the Get Satisfaction people attempting to play that role, but so far their smarmy little entreaties have a Higher Power to curb them -- the enlightened devs themselves.

I don't want to live in a world not only where people who really are the nasty things that people call them can't be called that, but where people who are not those things can't be called those names either. I believe in the right to mount even a false hypothesis in the search for truth. It has to be the hallmark of an open society. Along the way, there will be people like the plaintiff in Times v. Sulivan who will be offended. If they are public figures -- so be it. If they are private figures, let them be very cautious and restrained so as to prove *actual malice* and loss of livlihood. These are matters better determined by real courts, not mobs of fainting e-mommies and fussy and controlling IT widgeteers.
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jakemckee

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Ariel clearly states on her blog bio and as part of the discussion that she works at Pownce. She also stated that this problem started well before her Pownce employment began. I think there are absolutely times when employment at one location dictates your participation (or lack thereof) at another location, but I'm not sure this is such a time.

And as far as your issues with community managers poorly performing their roles, well, let's not toss the baby out with the bathwater. Plenty of politicians have done their jobs poorly but I'm not ready to chalk democracy up as a "failed experiment". Scientists built the atomic bomb, but I don't think it's time to ban science. A good community manager abides by my mantra: "Everybody goes home happy"... which is to say that if they're only looking out for themselves or their company, they're a failure. I can count just as many successes of that as you count failures.
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Prokofy

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Um, not everybody follows every link, champ. She did not state it explicitly in her post *here*. We don't know her from Eve, frankly. And as I made clear in my post, it doesn't *matter* that she made this information in theory available to the link-happy and Google witch-hunter, and even that this stalking thing happened long before Twitter. Because that's my point -- if she isn't engaging in a crass dissing of a competitor, which doesn't seem to be the case, she's trying to *dictate to the industry* the way she thinks the devs and their minions should control the public. And the hell with all that, I say.

Politicans are elected. I'm all for representative democracy. Warts and all. Community managers aren't elected. They aren't even acclaimed in some sort of medieval fashion. They are just hired, or the game-gods dub their most loyal fanboyz to be the mods because they suck up the most. It's a horrible culture, and you know full well that this isn't tolerable in most areas of life -- like science, to use your analogy.

Who says we even need community managers?! It's an inherently corrupt and abusive system.
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Jim Cavoli

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It's really sad that twitter is taking this stance. It would be good for them to note that the online services which strictly enforce their TOS in what twitter evidently thinks is an unnecessary "mediator" stance are the most successful...a la Facebook and Flickr (hmmm...Flickr seems to be a recurring player in this discussion ... success ... protection ... oh well, probably irrelevant).

twitter, this isn't about the purpose of a communication tool (Mr. Goldman), nor the mediation of everything that goes on, but protecting your users. The fact that Facebook promptly reviews abuse notices that I submit has made me feel that much more comfortable and safe with their service and increased how much of a fan I am.

I haven't been on twitter for long at all, relatively, nor am I likely to leave any time soon because of this alone. However, that being said, this has given me a fairly negative general opinion of twitter's inner workings. I have nothing against any of you at twitter personally, but it seems your overall mission is a bit off track.

As far as allegations that Ariel started this to drive blog traffic, maybe she did, maybe she didn't, but either way, it is more important that the issue was handled and brought to the attention of twitter management and I believe that it most definitely has - with resounding clarity. Conflict of interest? I don't think so. After all, twitter and pownce have pretty different purposes, and that aside, she's not really gunning for twitter to take it down, and besides, she admits to being a twitter addict, God knows Kevin is, and so many of them ("them" here meaning the digg/rev3/pownce/kevin crew(s)) are addicted that seeing them try to take it off the net is ludicrous.

To conclude, thank you Ariel for raising awareness, and thank you twitter for clearing this up. Let's all file it away - not forget, but forgive - and move on.
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mdoeff

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Facebook has been building a reputation for being too trigger-happy on deleting accounts over alleged TOS violations. If I need to choose between that approach and Twitter's more hands-off approach, I'll choose the Twitter approach.
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Jim Cavoli

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I agree mdoeff, on the whole. I don't care which approach twitter takes as long as its a bit clearer which one they're going with.
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Twitter has the right to do what they want, no matter what you think.
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Jen

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I'm mostly curious why Ariel is attempting to resolve issues she had with a stalker prior to using Twitter with Twitter, especially since the messages she received via the service appear derogatory, but not threatening. I've had a couple of stalkers, and it's a terrifying experience. I'm definitely not disputing that. However, while their actions online certainly helped to validate my case against them with the police, I doubt the sites would have done anything had I raised concern. I wouldn't expect Twitter to do anything in this case, especially since the user has deleted their account and is using workarounds to irritate Ariel.

I also think it's a little cheap to bring up her association with Pownce as a means to discredit her actions, even if I don't agree with them.
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Hel M.

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My understanding of the situ is that Ariel is trying to get Twitter to deal with the aspects of the stalker's behavior that involve Twitter, or that did while the user was still on twitter, or that perhaps involve the user's new account or accounts.
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TwittPulse

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If a person has a problem with another person - this should be decided between the two of them without involving the comunication platform. Demanding to ban an account for twittering is like asking GMail to close an account that send an offencive email or after receiving a call contact the tel.company.

What Twitter really has to make is to hire a lawer to ensure that it is clearly stated in terms of service that Twitter is a personal comunication tool and the user is self responsible of what he writes about.
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Jim Cavoli

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It's really not the same thing - the TOS is different for GMail (and it is a fundamentally different technology - also its not public; I could go on). I do, however, agree that if they want a hands-off approach that they should get a lawyer and revise their TOS, which is what they're doing anyways.

Honestly, I don't care whether twitter takes a hands-on or -off approach to dealing with these sort of things, but right now they're sending some mixed signals. I'm sure they'll recover fine from this PR blow and move along with some clearer definition on their role and grow as a company from the experience.
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clvrmnky

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Google does ban user accounts for abuse of their TOS. It is impossible to take an absolute position on this. Not all user accounts are worthy, and, yes, it is the responsibility of the services to attend to abuse if they say it is. Otherwise, what is the point?
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mdy

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Just saw that Twitter has a new blogpost regarding this matter:
http://blog.twitter.com/2008/05/twitt...
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Marjolein Katsma

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...where biz comments: "Folks, I may have to reject comments referencing the confession account. That account was deleted and it was not the account that inspired the accusation."
Meanwhile the confessions account DOES STILL EXIST and all the disgusting content is still there for everyone to see. I posted a comment to that effect on the blog, but it will probably be moderated out...
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Marjolein Katsma

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Well, sure enough my comment wasn't let through - but confessions now is empty... so maybe it did some good after all.

Maybe next time Twitter can actually check before saying "account was closed"? ;)
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Marjolein Katsma

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Biz actually updated his original post with a reference to the Confession account: "Note that this same popular blogger issued another complaint more recently about a different account which was some sort of "confession" mashup that allowed multiple people to post to one Twitter account. Our support staff investigated as soon as we received the complaint but the account had already been deleted by it's creator."
What bothers me the most about this, is that this is a LIE. Numerous people have actually commented on the contents of the confession account, and in fact it still existed until *yesterday* - it was not actually closed/emptied until I pointed out in my (moderated-away) comment yesterday that it was still there for all to read.
Sorry, Twitter, that's not "investigation" - that's sloppy misinterpretation from kosso's comment that the confess /service/ was closed, if you even paid any notice at all.
So Biz is either quite naively, or quite deliberately lying. In either case, that's an excellent way to win trust of your users back, isn't it? No, it isn't.
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clvrmnky

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This sounds pretty clear to me. Twitter is a privately administered web service owned by a private entity. They have the right and privilege to quash any use of their service for pretty much any reason. The fact that they offer a terms of use is just a nicety. They don't /really/ have to offer one and they don't really need to give a reason to cancel tweets, history or accounts.

Therefore, this is not a free-speech issue, and it is not an issue about "mediating" between users spats.

Unfortunately, this also means that they don't have to abide by their own terms of use. Sure, it would be nice, but it is not required. While it's nice to think that start-ups like this will see eye-to-eye with their "members", I think it is important to realize that is essentially what we are: free content providers using privately own services. We are members only insofar as it benefits Twitter.

Logically and realistically, Ariel is right. If Twitter wants to pretend they are post collaborative social web 2.0 they better start acting it. Otherwise, lets face it: shitty people ruin everything if you let them, and there are plenty of other places for assholes to go where I don't have to hear them. If Twitter wants to grow an interesting forum they better start treating it like their own living rooms. Would they let a guest call another guest a "cunt" in their own houses? I doubt it. Twitter is their house, and we are just guests. We should act like good guests, and Twitter should act like good hosts.

If this actually happened as outlined in Ariel's timeline, this user should have been warned, perhaps twice, and then put in a corner to sulk. If this did not do the trick, then frag him permanently. This is not some thin edge of the wedge here. It is another loser on the internet. Seriously, who cares?

Do I sound bitter? Honestly, I don't think I am. But I urge folks to think realistically about these sorts of things. Just because we chat 140-chars at a time with the folks from Twitter doesn't make them our friends, and it doesn't make them infallible or even reasonable. Twitter has their own agenda, and it only coincides with Twitter membership agendas while this benefits Twitter.

As the social, co-operative, membership web grows (especially for the younger folks who don't remember the days before widespread internet use) these sorts of contradictions are only going to become more common.

Smart service providers will move quickly to handle situations like this, because sitting on the fence will just make you road-kill.

Twitter is in the process of choking on its own success, and can barely keep it together as it is. All they need is the spammers, web-cocks and follow-whores to reach critical mass and they will see this success vanish faster than it came on.

-- clvrmnky
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Prokofy

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Um, where is that place where the !@#holes can go? And who's to say you can define *the other* people who are in that category, and that you are not in it yourself? We are not "guests in a house". We are using a public utility in a public space -- a public commons -- on the Internet. We're not over at Ev's for a barbeque. We're on his mall, and as such, we have the right to some reasonable protection of the right to freedom of expression if it does not incite imminent violence or libel a private person. As Ev has already explained, he could not prove that an actual tweet was put out that actually specifically called Ariel Waldman directly by this term. And even if he had found such a tweet, by itself, while offensive, it is not actionable under real law; it's doubtful it's actionable even under a good-faith reading of the admittedly overbroad TOS.

Smart service providers had better NOT move quickly to dispense justice according to thin-skinned prima donnas and their incited mobs.
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Marjolein Katsma

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No ,Prokofy, we are *not* using a "public utility" - we are using a private one. But by claiming they are merely a communications utility they are forgetting that they are, indeed, in public space.
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I think I'm actually proud of Twitter's stance on this one. As much as I don't like the comments that were made, corporate censorship may be one of the greatest modern threats to our freedom. The right to disseminate information is one of our most fundamental rights, and as such I would rather be censored by a court than by a corporation.

Twitter's responsibility as a communication medium and Internet service should instead be to assist authorities in investigating the illegal activities of its users (provided the authorities have the appropriate warrants).

Defamation of character, libel, and inciting a riot are cases where your words are not protected speech, and in these cases Twitter should help the police track down users who are abusing their right to free speech.

If someone's saying something you don't agree with and you can't make a case against them, they probably have a right to say it. If you aren't following someone on Twitter, then you don't have to listen to them.
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Jim Cavoli

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Strong case; I must agree with you on that - a policy of informing police would also probably result in fewer violations - it's just harder to do on the Internet for most companies, so they end up doing the policing. Plus, there's a bit of a problem in the international nature of the Internet that makes enforcement of such a policy difficult or impossible to do in nations with differing views on rights and with different laws regarding speech and what's protected. To that end, corporations need to at least retain the right to handle things however they wish, but virtuously maybe elect not to most of the time, which is what twitter seems to be doing here. As I've said, they didn't do anything wrong, but generally, the web 2.0 social megalith enforces TOS and handles abuse fairly swiftly in the interest of "protecting users," which is usually the point of a TOS anyways - its an agreement to use the service in the way they define and you agree to.
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"The right to disseminate information is one of our most fundamental rights, and as such I would rather be censored by a court than by a corporation."

Then you are a fool. The limits on censorship contained within the Constitution apply only to the public sector. Corporations have no ability or right to censure you, unless you are on their property. Twitter is a PRIVATE web property, and if you want to use it, you have to play by their rules. Just because you have a right to free speech doesn't obligate Twitter (or any company) to provide you with a soapbox.
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clvrmnky

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Freedom of expression is both "freedom from" and "freedom to."

I'm pretty sure that @messages will show up in your timeline. If not, we still have a case where there is some evidence of harassment that continued after a slap on the wrist. You know what? Freedom of expression on a corporate site is practically meaningless. I'd rather that if a corp holds all the cards that they play them in a manner that benefits most of their user base.

Sorry, but there is no legal reason to defend our freedom of expression on Twitter -- it's a meaningless concept -- and barely a moral reason if censuring a single user for abuse of the Terms of Service results in a better place for many.
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Prokofy

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This is the best comment I've read on this thread, or anywhere, in a long time, on the threat to our freedoms. It gives me hope.
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martymankins

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A well written response, Chris H. If the authorities are involved, then Twitter needs to respond accordingly. Otherwise, their response was professional and concise.
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I didn't say Twitter doesn't have the right to censor us when using their service. They do have that right. They aren't obligated to provide us with a soapbox, but I'm glad they do.

I'm not sure how it makes me foolish to not want someone to censor my words. Do you want someone to censor yours? If I pay getsatisfaction.com $1 will they remove your comment? They may have that right, but you probably don't want them to.
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It's foolish to prefer public censorship over private.
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meh, Twitter is *not* a communications utility, it is NOT an ISP. It is a website - a publishing platform, an online service - though a free one. It's a microblogging site, generally used in tandem with blogs for short updates and quick updates with friends. It is for PUBLISHING. Let's get that straight. Twitter does not provide any internet access, it's not a UTILITY like the freaking phone company! It's not even like the online services and bulletin boards of yesteryear, because it provides *no* internet access. It is *purely* a service on the web.

The law protects it only so far as to protect them from potentially illegal content posted without their knowledge, but that bit of protection evaporates once they've been notified of the situation - if they don't rectify it, it could well be actionable. That is to say: if some deadbeat is posting kiddy porn - no Twitter is not responsible, unless they were *notified* and then let it stay there.

And yes, Twitter is obligated to cooperate with the police and keep records.

comparing it to an ISP or a telephone company (the two are usually synonymous if you have DSL these days) is only applicable if you like, hooked up a loudspeaker to your telephone and blared all your telephone conversations to the neighborhood. (Good luck with the neighbors!) That's what Twitter does on the Intarwebs. Let's not forget that fact. So lets dispense with the freedom of speech blarney because Twitter legally has the right to censor whatever it wants on its own website, and it's totally protected by law. Flickr apparantly had no problem doing the same thing, and if Twitter had done as Flickr had done (and what most online services do these days), this wouldnt even be an issue right now.

I've worked for online services for years and yep, this is experience on my part.

Now to dispense with the next bit of blarney I've read on this ... seems like Twitter reps claim that there is no record of deleted tweets - better be aware of the law that requires to retain records in the event of a criminal investigation.

http://tinyurl.com/e3fo9

Now, the real possibility is this: all Miss Ariel has to do is file a POLICE report on the content - just the stuff I SAW - which is potentially *criminally* actionable in many western countries, (hey, one of those tweets was about using a dildo to well... you know... her) and then you guys at Twitter are going to claim you don't have the content to provide them?! Oh wow... Good luck! Are you people aware that its insanely easy for police to get IP records from a UK site? You're not safe just because someone used a UK site to send anonymous threats via twitter... it's just going to take a little time is all.

I really like twitter, I really do, I think its a great idea - Pownce isn't really the kind of site I was looking for - so no, this doesnt mean I'm going to run off to Pownce, no. But I call a spade a spade when I see it, and I honestly couldn't care less if Ariel Waldman was CEO of Google - the situation I've seen so far looks wrong, really wrong... and the responses from Twitter staff look bad... really bad.

I simply saw enough of those tweets to be sure something really wrong was going on. Speaking as someone who consistently bans people on a weekly basis in communities I moderate - being afraid of a banning of a user who has broken your terms is a wee, well... disingenous sounding to me. Sorry.
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Right On!
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Prokofy

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concerned tweeter, your analysis is merely the narrow analysis offered repeatedly in different forums by a tiny segment of tekkies who create and rule social media and Internet sites and think that their notion of what is just and proper should prevail. That doesn't mean it serves the public interest; it doesn't mean that it will remain this way forever.

There's nothing to say this "way things are" should last -- it won't.

Here's what it's about for you, Waldman, and other people like you -- power.
"Speaking as someone who consistently bans people on a weekly basis in communities I moderate - being afraid of a banning of a user who has broken your terms is a wee, well... disingenous sounding to me. Sorry."

And here's the message you need to hear: a) your TOS is unconscionable; b) your power is not legitimate, c) your behaviour is unjust, and more and more, people will be challenging your rule.

I'm quite sure a knowledgeable lawyer could take a look at all this and just as easily find that Twitter *is* a common carrier -- indeed, this topic is widely and heatedly debatedly all over, and your conviction that you can pronounce "the truth" on it is misplaced. It will be changing, and adapting to the needs of the public -- not to the needs of Silicon Valley.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_c...

If harassment rises to the test where you'd actually have a case in real life in person with a lawyer and court -- then go for it, and ask Twitter to cooperate. If it doesn't, then don't follow your vanity feed if you don't want to see criticism or nasty stalking of yourself. It's just that simple. Threatening the service with boycotts and smearing it all over town just don't work to persuade or impress.

I guess you aren't comprehending what the Twitter devs have written now repeatedly: it isn't that they didn't enforce their TOS, which I'd argue is arbitrary and overbroad anyway. They did in fact take a look at the material, *made a determination that it was not abusive* and moved on, responding to the customer. In this case Waldman tried to leverage her position to keep banging on Twitter and keep hollering on her blog and incite people like you to high dudgeon and self-righteous indignation. But again -- it's all vapour. It doesn't matter. They didn't find abuse. She needs to stop reading her vanity feed.You need to stop spouting outrage on behalf of your illegitimate and unconscionable occupation.

So again, what happened here is that Waldman made a false charge. It's not true that "Twitter refuses to uphold its TOS"; it's that Twitter refuses to interpret the TOS *the way that thin-skinned and petulant Internet prima donas think they should uphold it*. Let's be clear on the distinction.
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Thomas

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I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
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Prokofy, I think the dumb !@#$ would be you, actually. But then again that wouldn't be harrassment because Twitter doesn't think so. Absolute ignorance mofo.
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Thomas

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This isn't twitter, lmnop. There's no need to resort to name calling simply because you disagree with someone. Be civil, mayhap?
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Lisa Brewster

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From the common carrier wikipedia page: "A common carrier must further demonstrate to the regulator that it is "fit, willing and able" to provide those services for which it is granted authority." All other arguments aside, in its current state Twitter would not be able to prove that it is fit to be depended upon by anyone.
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martymankins

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Bravo, Prokofy. Well stated.
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Eric Suesz

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Just as a reminder: We do have community guidelines that asks everyone to refrain from name calling. I think we can make our points without going for the jugular.
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JonnyHaynes

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Surely changing the TOS won't make a difference, Ariel and the abuser signed up to the previous TOS. This is what they should be working against. This is what Twitter can use against the abuser. Twitter needs to get its act together.
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Wow, this is unacceptable. I doubt very seriously I would employ Twitter without them doing some serious upgrades to their TOS violation response. Sad. You aren't small enough a company to ignore stalking!
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I would not consider this "harassment". Maybe defamation of character. Unless someone is actively persuing you to communicate their hate of you in a threatening manner, I don't see how this is harassment, especially on a medium like twitter. Unless they are spamming you with private messages, they can't harass you through twitter. Be an adult, stop following him on twitter and ignore him. This smells to more like a "victim" promoting herself to internet fame.
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Hmmm...smells like harassment to me. If I was going through the same thing, I would certainly call it that.

Would it make a difference if the "abuser" called her on the phone instead of posting it on Twitter? What if he sent her letters in the mail? Does it make it any less damaging because it's done on the web?
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It would be different. That would be a communication directed at the insulted person. This [twitter] is a broadcast medium, she can just not follow his tweets, you do not chose what phone calls or emails you receive. Its no different than Howard Stern calling Paris Hilton a whore on the radio. Or calling someone these names on a website. Is it bad (especially if its untrue). Yes. Is there some legal remedy....maybe. In my example, in order to win a defamation of character suit, Paris would have to prove she isn't [a prostitute]. But is it "harassment"? No. And for twitter to shut down an account over these tweets would be offensive to my sense of free speech. What would be the difference between Ms. Waldman's complaint, and Walmart asking to have a twitter account shut down for calling their stores "sewers", "whore houses", "piles of useless cheap crap on shelves". The only difference is that as a community, we like a popular cute young blogger girl working at a web 2.0 company. We don't like walmart. so we would call that free speech, not harassment. I re-state, I am assuming these are general broadcast tweets, not personal messages directed at her via "@" that she cannot just chose not to follow.
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Point taken. I think the line between "harassment" and someone being a jerk is blurred here, which is why this is such a contentious issue.
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I have to side with Twitter on this. Ariel is not being stalked or threatened. This is nothing more than a thin-skinned little girl who can't handle a little name-calling. Although the names are crude and rude, they do not qualify as cyberbullying or harassment.

Twitter would have been well within its right to tell her to take a flying leap, but they humored her, and that speaks well for them.

http://www.michaelcrook.net/2008/06/0...
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Marjolein Katsma

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They do, however qualify as "libelous, defamatory, obscene or otherwise objectionable" - all of those, in fact - quote from the TOS. (Yes, and I have read the part that says "We may, but have no obligation to, remove Content and accounts containing...").
The fact that the TOS is already weak on "Spam" (they apparently haven't realised there are many other types of spam than email spam - and that capitalization is hilarious) and their "sole discretion" in this case is to do nothing at all, is sending a powerful message that anything goes at Twitter. Keep it up, and Twitter will become a spammers' haven and a free-for-all platform to spew "unlawful, offensive, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene or otherwise objectionable" content. Keep that up for a little more and there won't be any scaling problems left.
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martymankins

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Marjolein, if Twitter had done absolutely nothing, then I could see your point. But since they responded professionally (just not to Ariel's satisfaction), your ending statement is simply a slippery slope.
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Marjolein Katsma

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Marty, the first account was apparently closed before they even could do something - we'll have to accept that statement because we can't verify it. The second account (confession) they said was closed before they could check it -- which was either just blatantly "saying something" without /actually/ looking if they could check, or simply a blatant lie, because it was up there with very obvious "libelous, defamatory, obscene or otherwise objectionable" content that many of us have seen long after Biz stated the account was closed and they could not check it. It was not /actually/ removed until I complained about that both here and on the Twitter blog. I'm sorry, but such a blatant lie, or simple neglect to even check whether such content is still on their server for all to see (and archive on other websites!), is not something that fits in my definition of "responding professionally". THAT behavior is the slippery slope that will make Twitter a spammers' haven and a free-for-all platform to spew objectionable (etc.) content -- unless such behavior is amended soon, and visibly, very clearly.
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martymankins

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Well then, I stand corrected. Biz lied about his business practices and Twitter will be flooded with people calling each other vulgar names and ads for penis enlargement. Guess it's time to close my account now before that happens. Everyone move to Pownce. They block spammers and stalkers better than Twitter.

Sorry to be so sarcastic about this, but I still don't see the major issue here. If Biz lied and didn't follow his own companies' ToS, then shame on him. But all of this for one person? C'mon. And I don't care that she disclosed the fact that she works for Pownce AND that all of this happened BEFORE she worked at Pownce, that's now a factor hanging in the balance.

Seriously, I hope Twitter does respond better, but it sounds like no matter what Twitter/Biz does here, it will never be good enough for the users. Meanwhile, the true slippery slope that will happen will be censored comments from every person who was stalked, offended, called a "cunt", etc etc... Twitter will be reacting more to answering to complainers than they will fixing their network. It will be down more than up.... wait a minute... if they are down, people can't send threatening or vulgar tweets to others. Problem solved. Move to Pownce.
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I see conflict of interest, Ariel works at pownce which is basically a twitter xerox. Boo-hiss. I mean, this is as well timed as campaign slam downs. I work at a competitor, I talk about this with colleagues, I elbow drop twitter and make my company more well known.
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Marjolein Katsma

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People who actually *read* what this is about don't see conflict of interest because this started long before Ariel was an employee of Pownce.
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HARASSMENT she is saying I can't read and probably secretly thinking the typical European comment "Stupid American." Thats basically racism! BAN! Oh and did I mention I started a website? www.whatisitmadeof.com BOO-YAH!
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Eric Suesz

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Carter: I am confused as to how your Web site relates to this conversation. Is there something I am missing?
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Noah David Simon

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Ariel works for Pounce? now I get what is going on.. ... yeah she blocked me on my first day ever using twitter. she isn't nice. I could see why a stalker would want a piece of her. Motive with a capital "M"... she is probably telling the truth. I was angered enough by her behavior to spiral out of control. I think it is time we start blaming the victim... just a bit. come on people. bring out the inner "Nelson" is all of us and go "HA HA"