Twitter has suspended Troll Chuck Johnson temporarily, apparently going by its new policy on violent threats. Johnson is a notorious name when it comes to internet trolling, and the ban is primarily due to his threat against civil rights activist Deray McKesson.
Johnson suspended temporarily
A tweet from Johnson appealed to people to donate money for “taking out” McKesson, who responded to Johnson’s tweets saying that it appeared to be a serious threat. Although Johnson’s accounts have been suspended in the past, this time it reflects the new policy from Twitter on threats. Just last month, Twitter made some amendments to its policies, adding phrases such as “direct” and “specific.” The new policy is looking promising for the micro-blogging platform, which has struggled over the past years to deal with bullying and threats.
There was no comment from Twitter on how long Johnson’s accounts will be kept suspended. But, in a statement to Re/code via email, Johnson said, “I was speaking metaphorically about exposing DeRay in much the same way Slate was speaking metaphorically when they talked about ‘taking out’ a Supreme Court justice.” Johnson added that he was not threatening McKesson’s life and expects to have his account back soon.
Twitter takes on trolls
A few months ago, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admitted that the company “sucks” at stopping threats and abuse on its platform. However, the company did make a few necessary changes to its policies regarding “violent threats” and also widened the ambit on the types of threatening and inappropriate content. The policy prohibits “threats of violence against others or promot[ing] violence against others.”
Twitter added some new tools to restrict bullies, and Johnson is the first troll that was restricted for inappropriately issuing threats. Users posting unsuitable content are restricted until the time they remove the content. Also repeat offenders will see increased penalties after an infraction. In order to tighten its grip on miscreants, the company is also testing a new algorithm to identify inappropriate or threatening content. If a particular user is targeted by a troll, the algorithm will identify the tweet as a threat, and the targeted user will not see that specific tweet in his timeline.
However, the new policy is considered largely vague, allowing human moderators greater freedom to interpret a tweet’s context.