And Now Some Words From Our CEO

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Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo was interviewed by Farhad Manjoo for the Talk section of  NYTimes Magazine this weekend. It was a very timely interview since the Federal Government is leaning on Twitter to censor the Islamic State’s ability to post on Twitter. However, according to an article on, Twitter wouldn’t even return the White House’s calls on the subject of the company treating terror networks similar to how Twitter police’s child porn.

The company “wouldn’t even return (White House officials’) phone calls,” a former U.S. official said, citing a complaint by Lisa Monaco, President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser. “They were really pissed off.”


Anyone who has misplaced a password and has needed a bit of assistance from Twitter, or really any of the other social media platforms, has the same experience that the White House seems to be having. I’m not sure if this lack of reaction makes me feel like the playing field has finally been leveled or scares the s*%t out of me at how hands-offish these new communication platforms are behaving.

Speaking on Twitter’s response in dealing with harassment and trolling on the platform Costolo admits in a memo that,

We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years. It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.

I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.

We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.

Everybody on the leadership team knows this is vital.


Twitter was launched in the summer of 2006 and it has taken almost a decade for one of its high level executives to go on record admitting that the organization needs to monitor its platform better. Is this acceptable in the world we live in? We all know how easy it is to hide behind a username and password when harassing someone, so what is the reasoning behind Twitter’s dragging of feet with trolling and harassment and the subsequent ignorance of terrorist organizations using its platform for propaganda?

Well, it’s a complex issue. By way of example, in the wake of the news of that internal memo going out, I’ll get emails from people that say, “I agree, and here’s a great example of someone being harassed on the platform” — and it’s not at all harassment, it’s political discourse. And, in fact, fairly rational political discourse. So you know these things have lots and lots of varying degrees: Was that really harassment and abuse? Or is that discourse?

Although, I believe in free speech and the repercussions that our society will be dealt if we begin to censor everything that everyone says or thinks, but how can a social media platform be so ignorant to the ways of the current landscape and allow trolling, harassment and what is becoming  commonplace, a communication platform for terrorists to recruit the next shoe bomber? Something needs to happen before this world get even more out of hand, although, it may have reached that point already.

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One Response to And Now Some Words From Our CEO

  1. sydhavely says:

    Great post, Matthew. Costolo is an interesting guy but right now, he’s having trouble laying out a viable strategy for Twitter. Some of it may be due to the toe-stubs you mention while others may be more global. He’s not alone. Marissa Mayer is struggling at Yahoo! as in “where do we go from here?”

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