Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo issued an internal memorandum to its employees in an effort to address recent reports of trolls who harass Twitter users in appalling ways. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” he wrote. To them, it’s bad business. Twitter loses core user after core user after these types of attacks. To the users, it’s abuse and it’s illegal.
In the NC General Statutes, § 14-196.3 specifically lists cyberstalking as a criminal offense, and it applies to any defendant who uses the internet, email, or other electronic communication to stalk another person, generally referring to a pattern of threatening or malicious behavior.
It is also illegal to electronically communicate any knowingly false statement regarding death, injury, or illness of the person, or any member of the person’s family, with the intent to abuse, harass, or embarrass or allow an electronic device under the person’s control to be used for any prohibited act under cyberstalking law.
With that in mind, check out what one user had to endure. As featured on The American Life, Twitter trolls created a fake profile of Lindy West’s father who had recently died. They repeatedly posted cruel comments under the fake account directed at Lindy. That’s sick. Prosecutors in North Carolina could make out a case for two different statutory violations based on their conduct.
Twitter’s inability to control the actions of trolls who harass other users creates an atmosphere in which users fear the likelihood of repeated harassing conduct from other users. That does suck. It’s not only bad for business, but it also creates a place for harassment to occur. While it’s not possible to eradicate harassment in any form of communication, Twitter should do what it can to mitigate the possibility of these types of situations.