Reporting and Documenting Twitter Abuse

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Updated January 28, 2020

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€
  • โ€œViolence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence.โ€
  • โ€œSensitive media, including graphic violence and adult content: You may not post media that is excessively gory or share violent or adult content within live video or in profile or header images. Media depicting sexual violence and/or assault is also not permitted.โ€

Experiencing abuse and harassment under these categories can look a few different ways:

  • Abuse and harassment can ensue from a single individual, or become more widespread if you experience some form of exposure, either off the platform and/or on Twitter.
  • Often abuse and harassment spawned by your work or opinions can quickly go from criticism to much more: lewd comments, inciting violence, death threats, and more.

โ€‹dangerโ€‹ If youโ€™ve fallen victim to any of these actions, report it directly to Twitter.

Unfortunately, this often is not an adequate way to deal with harassment:

  1. Twitter may not respond in a timely manner due to a high volume of submissions.
  2. Twitter may claim abuse has not occurred for actions that clearly break their rules.
  3. Reporting can be time consuming and overwhelming if youโ€™re sustaining a mob attack.

As an extra layer of protection, you may take the following actions:

  • Documentation. Make notes and keep records (screenshots, messages) of any threats you receive or harassment you encounter. Screenshots are especially important for documentation, because inappropriate or abusive tweets may be deleted by the original poster.
  • Reporting to authorities. If you fear harm or threats to your safety, contact local, state, or federal law enforcement.

On Discussing Politics

A Gallup poll concluded that โ€œalthough the U.S. is divided politically, most Americans do not commonly discuss politics or public affairs with other people,โ€ after finding that โ€œ34% of Americans talked about public affairsโ€”including politics, issues and news.โ€* โ€œDonโ€™t talk about politicsโ€ is a mantra many uphold offline.

However, political conversations run rampant on Twitter, which has a heavy presence of politicians and political journalists. Itโ€™s commonly known that politically motivated aggression can be some of the most negative content taking up your Twitter feed. According to 2019 Pew Research, heavy Twitter users frequently discuss politics while light users are less likely to get political:

  • โ€œHeavy users spend more of their time tweeting about politics. 22% report discussing politics on Twitter within the last 30 days, compared with just 6% of light users.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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