I've written before about Twitter's lack of understanding about scaling issues (which is a lot more than simply size) but today I learned that Twitter doesn't bother enforcing its own terms of service. Ariel Waldman's treatment by Twitter is a model case study in how to mess up customer service. The short version of the story is that Ariel believes she is the subject of sustained harassment and abuse during the second half of 2007 and up to the present:
On March 14, I wrote to Twitter, giving the example URLs of abuse and stated to them clearly:
“Since this is an ongoing case and due to the nature of the content, I think this person is clearly violating Twitter’s TOS and I find it necessary for Twitter to uphold to this: “4. You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.” Honestly, I believe this harassment has gotten way out of hand for too long. I am writing to you and to Twitter to remove this user for consistent long-term harassment.”
Ariel entered into a series of discussions with Twitter and Jack Dorsey, its CEO about having the person who is harasssing her banned. It turns out that Twitter is more concerned about getting sued for banning an individual rather than upholding individual rights under Twitter's TOS. The excuse used by Dorsey is:
Jack explained that they’re scared to ban someone because they’re scared if it turned into a lawsuit that they are too small of a company to handle it.
That's nonsense. Twitter raised $5 million last year [update: and has raised a further $15 million] which should be more than enough to defend itself. Assuming of course it doesn't burn the lot trying to keep Twitter alive. What might happen if Ariel was to turn the tables and sue for commercial misrepresentation? More to the point, will enterprise trust a service that turns its back on the very community it seeks to foster? The answer to that is a resounding no. That's why I believe services like eventtrack should get far more attention.
Hat tip to Tom Raftery for the Tweet notifying me of the issue.