Finally, Twitter has taken a small but significant step toward cleaning up the vile filth being spread anonymously (and otherwise) on its popular social media platform. Effective this morning, Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo announced the suspension of any users who tweet the horrifying images of the beheading of American journalist James Foley by ISIS terrorists.
We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you https://t.co/jaYQBKVbBF
— dick costolo (@dickc) August 20, 2014
For a service with very weak standards when it comes to self-policing, it’s a welcome announcement. Of course it won’t prevent the images from being initially posted prior to suspension, or for the suspended users from re-registering under new anonymous handles and re-posting the images. It’s unclear, though doubtful, whether there’s any method to successfully interdict the images before they’re posted without effecting the posting of all images on the site.
Those of you who follow me regularly are familiar with my soap-box when it comes to anonymous handles and, especially, the tasteless posting of death imagery on social media — be it with benevolent intentions or to simply shock and troll other users. Personally, I wouldn’t stop at the images of Foley, but all death images posted directly to Twitter. Given especially the past year or so in which Twitter has become increasingly renown for abusive behavior and outrage-mongering, culminating with the unforgivable trolling of Robin Williams’s daughter Zelda who was accosted with photoshopped post-mortem images of her late father, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that in order to survive, it would behoove Twitter to take these threats more seriously.
Not only should it do so for the sake of its millions of users, but for the sake of sustaining its own business model. As we’ve witnessed with platforms like Friendster, MySpace and others, social media sites with massive user-bases aren’t immune to self-immolation. Twitter isn’t immortal and given the recent shellacking it’s received by popular users like Patton Oswalt, along with harrowing cases like Zelda Williams, it’d do well to make some serious changes to its terms and rules. Admittedly, it’s doubtful I’ll ever get my wish for the elimination of anonymous handles, but if Twitter is incapable of devising a better system for weeding the assholes, it’s only setting itself up to be trumped by whatever platform that ends up being the Facebook to its MySpace.
And by the way, if you’re posting images of James Foley’s execution, may you rot in hell.
UPDATE: Ah hell. One account that allegedly posted the execution was unsuspended. Via Mashable: