I cancelled my Twitter account today after last weekend’s intolerable abuse of three English football players in the Euro 2020 final. I’m not going to get into that. All right-minded people condemn the abuse. But I did want to explain why I felt the need to leave Twitter.
Doing so isn’t really a hardship. And with just over 500 people ‘following’ me, it’s not going to shake its foundations. But as many use it as their primary social media platform, I wanted to explain my reasoning. But it’s a personal decision with no judgements attached to those still using it.
I’m also aware that, by using Facebook, I’m inconsistent. I mostly use Facebook to stay in contact with friends and family. It is private to me, so only those who are friends can see my messages etc. And my friends are accountable – if they post racist views, I unfriend them. For me, this is an important distinction. I wish Facebook would do more, and hope they will be forced to. But for now, the mental support I get from staying so easily in touch with those close to me outweighs my moral doubts about its business model.
I’ve worked in websites, as a senior editor, for a decade. I’ve overseen comments sections, message boards, membership models etc. And been in high level discussions and done regular media law courses covering the internet and social media. In my opinion, greed is the only thing stopping Twitter (and other ‘social’ sites) from doing the right thing.
Governments keep asking these platforms to tackle the problem. But haven’t legislated, instead wait for these profit-driven global behemoths to self-regulate. Which never, ever happens. It looks like the UK government may finally be forced to pull its finger out after this debacle. But we’ll see. Boris made some of the right noises in PMQs today. But his bluster rarely turns into action when it comes to large corporations – especially at a time when he’s still trying to justify brexit via tax breaks and undisclosed bailouts to secure jobs.
Registration & accountability
It is too easy to create accounts on Twitter. It’s a five-minute process with zero accountability if you later get banned or otherwise punished. This level of anonymity practically encourages poor behaviour. Increased levels of security and scrutiny are clearly available. Just look at banks or other online financial institutions. But yes – all that extra security and accountability costs time and money and would put people off signing up.
And then there’s moderation. You can set up word catchers etc but they’re crude at best and often easy to get around. What you really need is a team of actual people to police this. But, of course, those pesky people want paying don’t they?
And again, the law/government doesn’t help. In theory, those perpetrating social media hate crimes (such as racist abuse) can be prosecuted and face massive fines – even jail time (if you can find them). But Twitter, Facebook etc can’t. They build-in not being responsible for what people write into their terms and conditions. By signing up to use their services, you’re essentially waiving your right to blame them if someone abuses you on their platform.
I’m just tired of it
So I’m walking away. It feels like an insignificant drop in the ocean. But it all adds up. In a week where I’ve felt embarrassed, even ashamed, to be English, I needed to do something. I hope you do something too. And if you’re someone in the board game industry who thinks I can help in some way, in your own battle with any kind of prejudice, please get in contact.