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MADDEAUX: Taming the Twitter rage machine

Sabrina Maddeaux says it's time for Twitter to get serious about rolls. COMEDY CENTRAL

Sabrina Maddeaux says it's time for Twitter to get serious about rolls. COMEDY CENTRAL


It's been a long time since I've heard anyone speak positively of Twitter. Of all the social media platforms, it seems to be the most hated. There are the usual reasons: it promotes narcissism, it's full of fake news and it's a distraction from everyday life. However, the most cited reason is that it has become a cesspool for outrage, hate and trolling.

The trolling on Twitter goes beyond snarky comments; it increasingly takes the form of rape threats, death threats and offensive slurs targeting females and minorities. It's certainly not a positive, feel-good space - and some would argue it's not a safe space.

A recent Kick It Out study of social mentions found that, out of the average 134,000 abusive comments posted online daily, 88% were posted on Twitter. It's a fact that online trolls mostly live on Twitter.

After many, many complaints and articles, Twitter finally decided to address the problem it has so long ignored. Tapping into all its creativity and brainpower, the team came up with a revolutionary, game-changing solution: changing the default avatar photo from an egg to a neutral silhouette that closely resembles the creepy Internet meme Slender Man.

Of course, I'm being sarcastic about Twitter's revolutionary tactics; the platform seems oddly resistant to evolution.

Twitter's logic for the change was, "We've noticed patterns of behaviour with accounts that are created only to harass others - often they don't take the time to personalize their accounts.

This has created an association between the default egg profile photo and negative behaviour, which isn't fair to people who are still new to Twitter and haven't yet personalized their profile photo."

They even argued that they made the silhouette's shoulder slim so it would appear gender neutral, rather than male.

Let's be clear: there's no difference between receiving harassing messages from a faceless egg and receiving them from a genderless silhouette. No one's going to feel any better about the death threats they're getting and suddenly view Twitter as a more comfortable, safe online space.

This sounds more like a branding exercise, meant to disassociate the platform and easily recognizable Twitter egg (of course, eggs hatch and turn into birds who tweet) with the deplorable behaviour that offends so many users and garners increasing media attention. They appear to have no interest in getting to the actual root of the problem. Rather, just like the trolls that live on their platform, they would rather take the easy road and hide behind a faceless icon. This isn't what accountability looks like and, quite frankly, is an insult to users who are victimized on Twitter.

Want to read more from Sabrina? Follow her on Twitter @SabrinaMaddeaux