Twitter toxicity: #hate #harassment #racism

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Twitter is a worldwide social media platform in which people are able to share their feelings in short statements. Although Twitter allows users to share personal opinions, sometimes these opinions are highly negative and end up creating bigger issues. There has been a constant concern for many people about whether or not Twitter is a safe and respectable platform for its users. Since Twitter gives you the ability to express how you feel in a simple form, the things you type could still potentially create problems for people. The consequences can be drastic if precautions aren’t made before posting terrible things, bullying, death threats, and doxxing are all common disciplinary actions made. Under no circumstance is it acceptable to tell someone you don’t know on the internet to harm themselves, or do things that could potentially harm them. Doing so could result in bigger problems than the problem itself. But it’s important to talk about the toxicness of apps such as Twitter, that continue to bring out the ugly in people and furthers the discussion of how inconvenient social media can be when used improperly.

Twitter’s algorithm has been a topic of interest for many users of the app, as negative tweets end up spreading much faster than positive ones. Now, this is true not only for Twitter but for almost all other popular social media platforms (Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, etc.). However, Twitter is the most toxic of the social media apps.

Initially Twitter was a place where you felt comfortable opening up to others about how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking about, but today this is not the way things go on the app. The problem with sharing your opinion is that anyone on Twitter that has access to your account can see what you’re tweeting about. This doesn’t sound so scary at first glance, right? The issue is that while you’re entitled to your own opinion, and you can share it on the app, anyone who sees it is also entitled to their own opinion. This makes it so easy to get caught up in an argument when someone negatively reacts to your tweet. Twitter is a great app for debates, but sometimes people get so personally attached to wanting to be right that they end up saying unnecessary things.

Another issue is people being able to post unethical opinions. Though there are restrictions on tweets, sometimes posts end up unnoticed by the Twitter guideline committee. There have been many instances in which celebrities have tweeted terrible things years ago, and many years later are called out for it. Throughout the years celebs including Kevin Hart (comedian), Stephen Colbert (television host), J.K. Rowling (author), Sia (musician), and Chris Pratt (actor), have all been exposed for their controversial usages of Twitter and reckless behaviors. These aren’t the only celebs that have been called out for their questionable characters, but it’s important to note how this isn’t a specific problem for certain subgroups of celebrities, it’s become a common issue for everyone. During the summer of 2021, Chrissy Teigen, an American model, gained a great amount of public backlash on Twitter after being exposed 10 years later for the harassment and bullying of a teenager. Teigen made uncensored jokes about Courtney Stodden, who at the time of the bullying was 16 years old. The situation itself sparked a lot of controversy: as Courtney was marrying a 50 year old man, many Twitter users took it upon themselves to blame the victim, Chrissy among them. Teigen’s tweets consisted of continuous hatred for Stodden, making broad statements which seemed to have ill intention. No one is perfect, but why weren’t there any issues revolving around the tweets the year they had been posted? The answer is that Twitter has always been a toxic environment, and maybe years ago that tweet was socially acceptable. As the years continue to pass, users are realizing that negativity has become a foundation of the app.

In response to these concerns, Twitter has made an attempt to prevent the spread of toxic tweets. But, are their efforts enough to end the toxicity embedded into the app? When users on Twitter get into a heated dispute, sometimes it’s hard for them to control the things they say. Twitter has been trying to come up with ways to prevent abusive responses to a user’s tweets. These anti-abuse tools are only ideas so far, but Twitter is always trying to gain feedback before making changes. Among these changes is the option to unmention yourself, which would remove you from being tagged in a tweet along with the thread. Another early idea is the option of preventing a huge Twitter argument, which would give the user the ability to block mentions, whether for 24 hours or longer. Although these concepts may prevent certain aspects of the toxic side of Twitter, the most pressing issue is trolling attacks, in which a huge swarm of users attack a smaller number of other users. Trolls are a part of many communities, but on Twitter, there are extreme levels of harassment. Twitter has yet to respond to its criticism regarding trolling. Twitter has come up with some solutions, but ending toxicity doesn’t seem to be a top priority for them at this point.

To a certain extent, Twitter has allowed users to find common ground and maybe become more open minded to other people’s opinions. But over the years, Twitter has become a severely toxic environment for not only its users but also for those who don’t even have the app. In all honesty, a solution that isn’t so pleasant for many users to hear is the idea that potentially Twitter should be discontinued. The more people that become physically and mentally attached to the app and all the negativity it brings, the harder it is for this to happen. If Twitter is banished, not all of the issues regarding the problems of social media will go away, but rather it would be an example of how harmful it can be to continue the normalization of toxicity on social media. Though many may not agree with this solution, we should all agree that Twitter needs to make some changes, before things get worse.

Jayla Farrington is a junior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, but moved to California in early 2016. This will be her first year with the Hatchet. Jayla plans on covering controversial topics such as mental health, entertainment, and racial discrimination. She enjoys anything to do with art, traveling, and music. Her future plans involve becoming a psychiatrist and therapist because mental health is a really important topic to her.

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