Twitter recently announced changes in its safety policies in the United Kingdom following a multitude of violent tweets aimed at a member of the British Parliament. Twitter users in the United States are also not immune to threatening tweets. msnbc contributor Goldie Taylor described her experience with Twitter after she received death threats over the social media site.
First amendment rights, Taylor explains, “don’t protect violent threats; they don’t give you safe harbor for threatening to kill someone, threatening to rape someone…certainly not on a private company’s platform.”
“Twitter is not a bullhorn on the sidewalk.”
The threats were not from a typical troll that could simply be blocked. In fact, they were particularly ominous. As Taylor explained on Weekends with Alex Witt, one Twitter user posted “what he believed was my office address. He then posted later that he would send two after me. Two were on the way, which is a double-tap to the forehead.”
As a result of the series of tweets which were “clearly a violation of their terms of service,” Taylor decided to take a proactive approach and alert Twitter. “Over the course of the next four to five days absolutely nothing happened.”
The threats did not stop. Taylor said, “He continued to make threats over the next several days until a critical mass of us began tweeting Twitter directly and tweeting to their head of security. Within the next 24 hours after that the account was suspended.”
One of Taylor’s followers was able to identify the individual who sent the threatening tweets. Immediately after the revelation, Taylor said the Twitter user attempted to wipe out and modify his online identity. Taylor highlights, however, that “one, digital footprints are forever, and two, we’ve turned this over to the Dallas field office of the FBI because clearly these are very violent threats that we have to take seriously.”