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Twitter Apologises for Ignoring Threatening Tweets from Bomb Suspect

Dominique Adams

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Twitter

The social network has admitted it should have responded differently when a user flagged a menacing tweet that turned out to be from Cesar Altieri Sayoc, the man charged with sending pipe bombs to high profile individuals. 

On 26th October, Twitter posted a series of tweets acknowledging that it should have removed a threatening message sent to Rochelle Ritchie, a Democratic political commentator and former press secretary for Congress.

Below is Ritchie’s original tweet concerning Twitter’s lacklustre response.

 

Ritchie said in a tweet made on Friday morning that Sayoc had threatened her on Twitter earlier in October, but that when she reported him, the company responded saying he wasn’t violating the platform’s rules. She then tweeted a screenshot from Twitter saying it had sent the previous message in error but Ritchie was dismissive of this backtracking.

 

From its Twitter Safety account, the company tweeted: “We made a mistake when Rochelle Ritchie first alerted us to the threat made against her. The Tweet clearly violated our rules and should have been removed. We are deeply sorry for that error.

“We are investigating what happened and will continue to work to improve how we handle concerns raised by anyone on Twitter. We want Twitter to be a place where people feel safe, and we know we have a lot of work to do.”

In response to Twitter’s apology, Ritchie said: “Thank you, Do better.”

Twitter Accused of Being Slow to Respond to Threats

Earlier in the day, Twitter had suspended an account that appeared to be linked to Sayoc, who was arrested on Friday in connection with mail bombs sent to prominent Democrats and critics of Donald Trump, including former President Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton.

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Twitter has faced criticism over its slow response rate to concerning tweets and harassment on the site. Towards the end of last year, after a #WomenBoycottTwitter protest, the company overhauled its rules on how it handles abusive behaviour.

Last Month, CEO Jack Dorsey told Congress that Twitter should have acted faster to remove a doctored image of Senator John McCain’s daughter crying over her father’s casket with a gun pointed at her head – the week following her father’s funeral. He said that it was unacceptable that the tweet was on the network for hours before Twitter’s staff acted to delete it.

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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