Some of you may already be familiar with the ongoing debate on whether or not Twitter should take action in the case of the online harassment of twitterer, blogger and writer Ariel Waldman. Ariel essentially found herself on the receiving end of some very nasty tweets [messages sent on Twitter] that were broadcast to everyone listening/following the conversation. After continued attempts to get Twitter to enforce its Terms of Service, which claims to warn and/or ban people who use their service to “abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users,” an active debate in the blogosphere ensued around the question of whether or not Twitter should intervene. Isn’t it free speech? Isn’t it part of the community dynamic to voice opinions? Today, Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone seemingly ended the speculation by posting a reply on Get Satisfaction. Biz claims that Twitter is a “communication utility and not a moderator of content” and posted a link to the company’s stance on abuse. Basically, short of a physical threat on someone’s life, or abuse of the technology, they are not going to intervene.
Since I am also the parent of a 7-year old girl, I am very interested in the debate over cyber bullying and online harassment. I hadn’t thought about it extensively in the context of adult interactions or on this scale until now. I know exactly what I would want to happen if my daughter was the target of this type of interaction. I am not sure how I feel as a Web 2.o advocate. Should companies like Twitter or other social platforms share responsibility for the actions of their users and intervene on their behalf?