Rapid Moderation Misses Key Phrase

After exposing a journalist for sexually harassing her via Twitter DM, journalist Talia Jane was the target of a mass reporting campaign designed to get her kicked off the platform. At first, the campaign succeeded: Jane received a permanent suspension as the result of a tweet in which she asked another user if they want to "die on this hill"—a common turn of phrase. The message she received from Twitter claimed that she had violated the company's rules against abusive behavior, specifically by engaging in "the targeted harassment of someone" or inciting others to harass someone.

Twitter's model of content moderation typically doesn't mete out permanent suspensions for first offenses. While it's unclear if Jane had experienced moderation on the platform before, it's shocking that Twitter would cut a journalist off from the platform merely for asking a common question—and in the middle of a harassment campaign, no less. Fortunately, Jane was able to successfully appeal Twitter's decision, and her account was unsuspended.

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May 2019