Personally Dealing with Abuse

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Updated January 28, 2020

Iโ€™ve made really close friends on Twitter. I got my first job through Twitter. Obviously, thatโ€™s all great, but then thereโ€™s the other side, too. People have harassed me on Twitter. Iโ€™ve dealt with a lot of abuse on Twitter. Twitter has made me much more cautious about who has access to my personal information. I try to be pretty careful to never post a picture or mention a location while Iโ€™m still there. All of that is important, too, even if itโ€™s not as fun.Jackie Luo (@jackiehluo), software engineer, Square*

Dealing with online harassment and abuse can take a personal toll.

In an article for Wired, Robyn Kanner (@robynkanner) discusses the feeling of being publicly shamed: โ€œItโ€™s a lonely experience to feel like the most hated person alive for just saying what was on my mind.โ€

Even high profile figures who are routinely at the receiving end of this abuse can find particular events extremely concerning.

What you can do:

  • Issue a statement. Issuing a response may not halt harassment and may even provide fodder for more. However, it can be personally helpful to speak on a tough situation and issue any clarification or points of contention.

  • Take a hiatus. Often the best way to deal with harassment is time and space. Itโ€™s become commonplace for people to opt of Twitter permanently or for an extended period of time in a response to harassment and toxicity. Choosing to step away and focus on other aspects of life can be helpful in easing some of the suffering associated with being a target on Twitter.

    • Susan Fowler (@susanthesquark), an editor at The New York Times and the author of the widely read post, โ€œReflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,โ€ took nearly a four-month break from the platform after weathering abuse on Twitter that turned into hate mail.

    • Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT), a White House correspondent for The New York Times, opted to use Twitter in a limited capacity and wrote an article on why, noting, โ€œThe viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism are at all-time highs, with no end in sight.โ€

Reporting and Documenting Twitter Abuse

Unfortunately, while there are Twitter rules, they are frequently broken and that breaking can go unaddressed. These are a few Twitter rules that are commonly broken and relate closely to online harassment:

  • โ€œAbuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.โ€
  • โ€œHateful conduct: You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.โ€
  • Youโ€™re reading a preview of an online book. Buy it now for lifetime access to expert knowledge, including future updates.
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