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Twitter has a problem with women and that's why you should support the #WomenBoycottTwitter protest

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When high profile actresses are coming forward in their droves to expose their accounts of harassment or assault at the hands of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, it might seem absurd for women to suddenly hold a silent protest - but silence speaks volumes and the #WomenBoycottTwitter protest has got people talking.

Which, in my opinion, can only be a good thing.

 

If you’ve been on Twitter today you will probably have seen #WomenBoycottTwitter trending, and if you didn’t know, it’s a day long Twitter boycott in protest of women’s voices being silenced.  

The protest was the idea of software engineer Kelly Ellis, who felt it was a fitting way in which to show solidarity with Rose McGowan, who accused Weinsten of raping her and had her Twitter account temporarily suspended this week after she tweeted about the alleged attack.

While McGowan’s suspension was the catalyst for this protest, it has now developed and stands to support and highlight all women who have been a victim of sexual harassment and assault - as well as to also bring attention to the fact many people are unhappy with how Twitter tackles harassment on its microblogging platform.

Many who support the protest have pointed out how it seems both ridiculous and unfair that McGowan was silenced for trying to speak out about her personal experiences of harassment in Hollywood, when people like Donald Trump appear to face no account restrictions when he sends tweets threatening nuclear war.

 

Seemingly, it feels as if Twitter are being selective when it comes to enforcing its policies on its users - and this is something that has left people feeling fed up.

The #WomenBoycottTwitter protest is shining the spotlight on this and showing that as a platform Twitter needs to re-evaluate how it enforces its policies and also protect its users from online harassment and trolls - as right now it quite frankly isn’t hitting the mark.

As Ana Valens, writer for the Daily Dot, puts it: “the sheer number of trolls and right-wing ne’er-do-wells infesting Twitter are driving women away. The boycott shows Twitter that they can’t ignore this problem any longer, and that women can (and will) choose to leave if the problem remains unresolved.”

When it comes to reporting abusive behaviour many Twitter users have expressed frustration at the fact problems they flag up are not being taken seriously or even being resolved.  

Columnist Lindy West has written extensively about her on going experiences with Twitter harassment. West has received rape threats on numerous occasions, which she nearly always reports.

“Reporting rape threats on Twitter is a time-sucking, onerous process that dominates my online life,” she says.   

On one occasion a twitter user sent her an image of a character from Thomas the Tank Engine with the caption, “CHOO CHOO MOTHERFUCKER THE RAPE TRAIN’S ON ITS WAY. NEXT STOP YOU.”

She reported the vile tweet and the troll who sent it, yet Twitter Support dismissed the issue and sent her this message:

“Hello,

Thank you for letting us know about your issue. We’ve investigated the account and the Tweets reported as abusive behavior, and have found that it’s currently not violating the Twitter Rules.”

The #WomenBoycottTwitter protest isn’t just highlighting the plight of Weinstein's apparent victims, its asking Twitter to do better when it comes to dealing with the abuse some of its users face.

It's showing the company that if they continue to ignore the countless voices urging it to improve its safety and support features - and actually police abuse - they’ll simply stop using the platform.  

Twitter has a problem with the way it systematically ignores women’s voices and fails to ensure users safety when they are targeted by trolls. It’s about time that changed - which is why #WomenBoycottTwitter is a protest which should be embraced.

Silence speaks volumes and it's time we all started listening.

 




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