While the pervasive problem of harassment on Twitter is far from solved, the social media platform has recently been taking steps towards finding solutions; and thanks to the non-profit group Women, Action and the Media, which partnered with Twitter late last year, we now have an interesting snapshot of what harassment looks like on Twitter, and how Twitter responds to it.
For several weeks last November, WAM participated in a pilot project where they acted as an "authorized reporter" for Twitter. This meant that users could report abusive behavior on the platform to WAM, which would then evaluate and escalate the reports they validated to Twitter. They also planned to "work with Twitter to better understand how gendered harassment functions on their platform, and to improve their responses to it."
Today, WAM released an analysis of the data they received during those three weeks. They also offered recommendations for improving how Twitter responds to harassment, which included developing tools to address "tweet and delete" attacks, adopting a clearer definition of harassment that moves beyond the limited standard of direct threats, and giving all users access to opt-in filtering the currently enjoyed only by verified users.
It also offered information on how Twitter responded to differing types of reported behavior. There was punitive action in 55 percent of cases, and WAM notes that Twitter was most likely to take action again reported hate speech, and the least likely to take action against reports of doxxing:
This not a scientific study by any means; the instances of harassment are self-reported, and the sample size is relatively small, with a little over 800 reports. Still, it's an interesting glimpse of what harassment on Twitter looks like, particularly in the absence of more substantive data from Twitter itself.