Same Issue, Different Worlds

May 22nd, 2008

There has been a dust-up in certain corners of the Internet recently over Twitter’s alleged failure to deal appropriately with interpersonal conduct on the site. The relevant tweets have been removed, so none of the facts are easily verifiable. To summarize the story quickly, though:

*social media consultant Ariel Walden complained to Twitter that she was being stalked and harassed on Twitter by a specific user.

*Twitter declined to take action several times over several months, citing a desire not to filter content appearing on the platform, and also saying that the alleged conduct did not, in Twitter’s mind, violate the site’s Terms of Use.

*Twitter recently made several public comments on the matter, including one to say that it is reviewing its Terms of Use to more clearly say that it will not actively monitor content.

I spent a little time looking at this and came away interested much more in the issue as a study of human behavior than anything else. Specifically, comments on Twitter’s official blog post contain nothing but glowing praise for Twitter’s approach. In contrast, the thread on Twitter’s support forum is filled with nothing but condemnation of the company. Literally in each case- the comments are 100% pro-Twitter in one venue, and 100% pro-Walden in the other.

Is there a point to this? Possibly not, except that even within Twitter, finding “community” depends on how you turn the coin- look to the official outlet and find Twitter diehard supporters; look to the support forums and find a completely different view. Fascinating.

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