“Did you know that fewer than 1% of people on Twitter produce most of the Tweets that break our rules against abuse?” asks a new sitewide message making its way (and making a plea to “support a culture of respect on Twitter”) into users’ feeds today. “Please take a look at our rules to know what is and isn’t allowed.”
Everything about this message is wrong, except perhaps that statistic, which I’ve no way of checking. It’s worth noting, however, that if Twitter’s self-reported numbers are to be believed, this still is three million people running around abusing others.
It’s not clear to me just who is the audience for this message. Those three million people, or any new users like them, are not going to be dissuaded from abuse by it. In fact, it often seems like it’s the Twitter moderation team itself that needs to read the site’s rules, as violators routinely managed to go unpunished.
But what I really want to call out here is the notion that “respect” should be the goal of community standards of conduct.
Respect is a thing with asymmetrical impact favoring the privileged and the powerful. Respect is kin to “civility”. Respect is used by Twitter nazis to tone-police their targets into being silenced by moderators. Respect is weaponized to game the enforcement of rules in a way which encourages abusers and discourages victims.
With all due respect, Twitter, this new message strategy regarding abuse in your community is a piece of shit.