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  • 07.19.16

Twitter’s troll problem could be its downfall

Next Tuesday, Twitter will reveal its second quarter earnings and with it, new user numbers. The last four quarters have shown dismal growth, in no small part due to the platform’s inability to keep its users safe from harassment.  Who wants to be on a platform where you’re subjected to abuse and account takeovers?

Last night, actress Leslie Jones of Ghostbusters fame left the platform after fielding a barrage of racist hate speech. She is far from the first user to do so: Lena Dunham, Zelda Williams, Iggy Azalea, Graham Norton, Stephen Fry, and others have left Twitter for similar reasons. 

But that’s not the only problem. Twitter also faces the issue of fake and hacked accounts. In Jones’s case, someone created a fake Twitter account in her name, from which they tweeted homophobic slurs. No one is immune from trolls: Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and others have been targeted as well, when hackers breached their Twitter accounts and tweeted on their behalf. Sure, you could argue everyone should have two-factor authentication and strong passwords. But why go to the trouble, if you don’t feel the platform is all that valuable? Twitter offers free-flowing debate and a platform for celebrities, but the cost of engaging may ultimately be too high—which may help explain why the company only added 8 million new users between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016. 

It’s worth mentioning many celebrities have returned to the platform—though often with the buffer of a social media manager acting on their behalf. RR