Regular or even occasional users of Twitter are sure to have noticed that the platform is not always used in the most pleasant of ways. What’s more, Twitter is rarely noted for being the most proactive of sites in tackling the issue.
In December last year, the European Commission criticised the microblogging site, along with social media rivals Facebook and YouTube, for a reticent attitude in combatting hate speech. It analysed a selection of 600 reports of hateful posts sent to the three tech sites, and found that Twitter was the most lenient of them, removing only 19.1% of reported content compared to Facebook’s 28.3% and YouTube’s 48.5%
The unhappiness at what some people see on Twitter, and their dissatisfaction at how the site is dealing with it, has led them to take the matter into their own hands and find creative ways to bring it to wider attention. Sometimes this is as an appeal towards Twitter to toughen up its stance on hate speech, while other times it’s more an attempt to get offensive Twitter users to really think about what they are tweeting.
Here are a couple of notable examples of unorthodox but eye-catching ways Twitter misbehaviour has been addressed:
1. Making reporting a fine art
This week, a video uploaded to YouTube has shown a fed up Twitter user take his complaint somewhere Twitter can’t miss it – right outside the company’s headquarters in Hamburg, Germany.
Artist Shahak Shapira is the man behind the stunt, which involved stenciling a plethora of hateful tweets, together with the Twitter handles of the accounts they came from, on the pavement outside the premises.
Shapira says he has submitted about 300 complaints to Twitter and has received a response to very few of them. He argues that if he has to see inappropriate tweets, so should Twitter, hence his highly visible campaign on the company’s doorstep.
The video can be seen below and, needless to say, it contains some highly offensive material.
2. Letting them eat cake
While Shapira’s efforts are directed firmly at Twitter, others prefer to target the people who tweet terrible things in the first place. A baker from New York has decided that rather than get angry with the perpetrators, a more effective approach is to shame them with kindness.
Kat Thek’s aptly named Troll Cakes is a company that urges people to send unpleasant comments to them. The bakery then makes a cake bearing their insults and sends it to the culprits.
It might seem counterproductive to reward trolls with a freshly baked, custom-made cake, but just maybe receiving a sweet treat with words like ‘you donkey witch’, ‘crash in a plane’ or even President Donald Trump’s ‘I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke’ shouted back at them in colourful icing might make them think about their actions.
Whether it’s a work of art or a piece of cake, these efforts go to show that creativity can make a real difference when tackling trolling and hate speech.