Today I tweeted, “Okay that Twitter says it will deal better with abuse, but policies are only as good as their implementation. I left @flickr because they wouldn’t even respond when I was being harassed, in plain violation of their ToS. So policies as such are empty.” (FYI, I tell a very brief version of my experience with Flickr’s unresponsiveness in this post. And you can read more about Twitter’s new policies here.)
A few minutes later I got this response:
@ayjay Hi Alan, We take ToS violations very seriously and investigate every report. Can you Follow/DM us with more details on the situation?
— Yahoo Customer Care (@YahooCare) March 13, 2015
I followed, and provided the old case number. But all I got in return was a link to a page for reporting abuse — something I did a long time ago. So I replied, “Well, I already did report the abuse. And nothing was done. So basically you’re asking me to start over. If you folks want to do customer care, you can pick up the ball where you dropped it.” Flickr’s reply? “Thanks for helping us to make Flickr a safer place! We really appreciate it!”
In other words, a big fat middle finger extended right in my face. Publicly, Flickr expressed concern and responsibility; privately they mocked me.
This is what I mean when I say that stated policies mean absolutely nothing — indeed, in some cases, as with Flickr, they are PR ruses designed to hide total irresponsibility. (And remember, I was a paying customer of Flickr when they they couldn’t be bothered to address the abuse. Twitter has no paying customers, and no real competitors either.) I see absolutely no reason to believe that Twitter will do anything to curb the torrents of abuse that afflict so many of its users, especially women. I’d be happy to be proven wrong; I don’t expect to be.