Ex-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo apologizes for letting Twitter become a haven of abuse

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has done an about-face on his opinion of Twitter as a haven for online bullies and the part he might have played in that.

At the Upfront Summit in Los Angeles, he admitted he was sorry for not paying enough mind to the problem and doing something about it when he ran the place, reports Axios’ Dan Primack.

Costolo said, “I wish I could turn back the clock and go back to 2010 and stop abuse on the platform by creating a very specific bar for how to behave on the platform,” and added. “I take responsibility for not taking the bull by the horns.”

That’s quite the different attitude than he had last summer, when Buzzfeed published a highly critical article about Twitter’s abuse problem and Costolo’s role, or lack thereof, in stopping it. The Buzzfeed report described Twitter as “virtually been optimised to accommodate” abuse, because of the company’s ingrained culture of leaning towards free and open speech on the platform.

The Buzzfeed article also accused Costolo of secretly censoring abusive tweets directed at President Obama during a question-and-answer on the site.

At the time, Costolo called the article and that accusation “total nonsense and laughably false as anybody who would speak on the record would tell you. Absurd,” he wrote in a tweet. “Shows a lack of understanding of the very basics of how trust and safety works at Twitter. Sensationalist nonsense.”

But today, with a new president at the helm who loves to tweet outlandish and provably false things, and who often uses Twitter to call his perceived foes out by name, Costolo is more introspective about abuse on the social network.

He told the crowd at Upfront that he now thinks Twitter could address the abuse problem having staffers manually curate tweets to emphasising genuinely authoritative people and their opinions instead of magnifying hyperbole, Primack reports.

Costolo left the CEO job in mid-2015, replaced by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. He is now working on a health tech startup.

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