Domestic Violence Trends On Twitter and Community Backlashes

July 31, 2011

8:13 pm

If you are not outside enjoying the beautiful summer weather and heat today, and instead stayed inside and connected to Twitter you may have noticed a very long and disturbing trending topic in the hashtag #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend. We generally do not cover hashtags or Twitter trends, but in this particular case there has been a bit of a movement by some of Twitter’s users to have Twitter remove this from the Trending Topics list as it insinuates the use of domestic violence. Currently, the petition started by DC-based Allyson Kapin founder of Women Who Tech has just over 1000 Twitter signatures.

According to Tweetreach, the hashtag has had well over half a million impressions, but since Twitter limits the number of tweets used in reports to 1500, we believe it is actually much higher. After some research, it looks like the hashtag started picking up in the early hours of July 31st and new uses of the tag keep pouring in. Who was the first to use it?  We’re still trying to confirm, but it looks like this may have been the tweet to start it all. He followed it with at least 60 more tweets using the same hashtag (there are more but that’s when I stopped counting).

Twitter User

Of course, Tech Cocktail does not promote this type of behavior and would likely delete any comments posted on this site that encouraged violence. But on an open communication utility like Twitter it raises the question of censorship and what level of censorship Twitter should assume, keeping in mind that tools like Twitter and Facebook have actually contributed towards overthrowing governments. Look at some of the uses of the hashtag to understand how the Twitterverse is utilizing it. What if the hashtag was harsher and used the word “kill” instead of “beat”? Would that change your opinion?

So the big question – how much should Twitter censor Trending Topics like this one? Take the poll below.

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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