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Twitter investors take aim at fake news, hate speech, and harassment — but the company says it’s already doing all it can (TWTR)


Jack Dorsey

A group of Twitter shareholders is urging the company to prepare a report on the steps its taking to combat fake news and other abuses of its service.
The shareholders are also urging the company to include in the report the financial and other regulatory risks it faces from such abuses.
The request comes in the form of a shareholder proposal; the company’s board of directors opposes the measure, saying the company is already doing and disclosing enough, concerning such fake news and other abuses.

Arguing that Twitter isn’t taking the problems of fake news and hate speech seriously enough, a group of the company’s shareholders are urging it to report back to investors on what steps it’s taking to combat misinformation and other abuses of its service.

The New York State Retirement Fund and Arjuna Capital have filed a shareholder proposal that would encourage Twitter to put together a detailed report about how well it’s doing enforcing its social network’s terms of service, the company disclosed in a regulatory document on Wednesday. The shareholders are also urging the company to include in the report the possible financial and other risks it faces from fake news and similar controversies.

“Shareholders are concerned that Twitter’s failure to address these issues proactively has created regulatory, legal, and reputational risk,” the investors said in their proposal. “We believe Twitter has an obligation to demonstrate how it manages content to prevent violations of its terms of service. Yet, disclosures have been inadequate.”

For its part, Twitter’s board of directors urged the company’s investors as a whole to reject the proposal. The company has not only made numerous updates to its service and policies over the last year or so to address and reduce abuses, it says, it’s been transparent about disclosing them. Providing more information to the public about such efforts could give “a roadmap for those bad actors who are seeking to evade abiding by our terms,” the board said.

“Our board of directors believes that this proposal is not in the best interests of Twitter or our stockholders, and unanimously recommends that you vote ‘against’ this proposal,” the board said in its written response to the shareholder proposal in the regulatory document.

Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, has been in the sights of regulators over the last year, following reports that Russian-backed groups hijacked those companies’ services to spread propaganda and other misinformation in an alleged attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. Twitter has also come under criticism for the abundant amount of hate speech posted on its service, and the numerous cases of harassment of particular users.

In their proposal, the retirement fund and Arjuna Capital listed some of the more notable incidents, and quoted both regulators and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself saying the company wasn’t doing enough to battle offensive and illegal posts. The company hasn’t seemed to be able to get ahead of the problem, they said.

Twitter’s “content policies appear reactive, not proactive,” the said.

As a result, they noted, regulators are stepping in — …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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