I’ve been watching with some dismay how Trump has again used Twitter as an attack platform against someone criticizing him. First Boeing (which has now agreed to donate money to Trumps inauguration, a classic roll over and pee surrender) and now the Union head for the Teamsters that was fighting to protect jobs at the Carrier factory. The good news is, unions (especially the Teamsters) don’t shrink from conflict and he’s fighting back. Someone sure needs to.
The bigger problem though, is how screwed up Twitter is. There’s no question that Trump has violated whatever rules ultimately led to Twitter banning Milo, although as badly and as inconsistently as Twitter enforces their rules, it sure comes across as the only real rule that matters is “Jack has said we need to deal with this”.
Trump’s twitter account should be and deserves to be suspended for his actions, but I’m convinced nobody at twitter had the balls to do this. They are too afraid of possible retribution and bad publicity.
But the thing is, if you want to build something worth building, you can’t not make enemies. If you try to please everyone, you'll fail, much as twitter is today. You need to take stands that both make your service stronger and make it clear what it stands for and even more importantly what it won't tolerate. You become a better service by choosing the enemies that improve you by excluding them.
I don't know how the twitter community and abuse teams sleep at night. I do know that if I were at twitter I'd be pushing hard to get this dealt with, and if I failed I'd hand in my resignation because I couldn't act as a representative of what twitter is today. Community managers won't always win the fight or agree with the corporate policy, but the must be able to support it in public without coming across as false, and Twitter is past that point for me. Well past.
I've been considering whether to leave Twitter or turn it into a robot bullhorn for my other activities. It's still useful enough for me to stay for now, but I think a twitter vacation is likely soon. We'll see.
That inability to support company directions was one of the reasons I left Palm, even though I still felt there were ways I could make a difference (hint: I was probably wrong, but then, I’ve always loved a worthy lost cause, such as Apple in the Spindler era) and I firmly believe someone in a community manager role can't check out and just show up for the paycheck.
It’s really sad, because Twitter is rapidly becoming the bad version of USENET, and down that path lies not death, but irrelevance. And while we couldn’t build in the tools to protect USENET from itself, Twitter doesn’t have that excuse. It just doesn’t. And there’s enough history of what happens to social networks that don’t deal with the trolls to know how this story will play out.
So, twitter people, how do you sleep at night seeing your service used the way it is by the trolls and abusers? Or do you not really look? Or think it's okay? Your actions indicate that latter.