The rise of the celebrity ‘Twitter Quitter’ is rather ironic as it was high profile users of the site which catapulted it to global success in the first place. When world famous individuals such as Oprah Winfrey and US president Barack Obama, took to using the site in its early days, its popularity grew enormously.
Little Britain star, Matt Lucas, has become of the latest celebrities to tell his 565,000 followers that he was quitting the site for good, after a teenager tweeted a terrible joke about the death of his former partner Kevin McGee, who hanged himself in 2009.
While Ashton Kutcher, a former prolific tweeter, with more than 9.9 million followers, has also stopped personally tweeting, handing his account over to a team of media professionals, after a tweet inadvertently landed him in the centre of US paedophile scandal.
The American actor tweeted about the sacking of Joe Paterno, the renowned American college football coach and sparked an outcry, as Kutcher’s comment failed to acknowledge that the coach had been sacked because he had allegedly covered up for a colleague’s actions – who had been accused of sexually abusing young boys.
Singer Sinead O’ Connor and Manchester City footballer Micah Richards have both quit the site in the last few weeks.
And former England footballer Stan Collymore, is considering abandoning his Twitter account after getting between 150 to 200 abusive message from Twitter trolls.
BBC Radio 5 Live presenter, Richard Bacon, has also suffered from severe abuse by Twitter trolls and spoke out about the experience in a recent documentary for BBC Three.
Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams in 2006 and now has more than 500 million registered users.
It currently does not actively police the billion tweets posted every week for abuse. Instead users can report or block any other tweeter for spam and abuse purposes.
Twitter has come under fire before about the lack of policing across the site. A high profile example was during the London riots last summer when people using the site to incite violence did not have their accounts shut down or censored.
However, at the start of this year, Twitter announced it will begin restricting tweets in certain countries, marking a policy shift for the social media platform that helped propel the popular uprisings recently sweeping across the Middle East.
“As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.
It said even with the possibility of such restrictions, Twitter would not be able to coexist with some countries. “Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there,” the company said.
Twitter gave as examples of restrictions it might cooperate with “certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content.”
“Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country while keeping it available in the rest of the world,” the January post on the Twitter blog continued.
However, it has yet to make any significant changes which would protect high profile users from such abuse.
Twitter’s big appeal for celebrities had originally been that it was a way they could directly communicate with their fans, the world and the media without any kind of spin. However, as the abuse ramps up and remains unpoliced, more and more are either quitting the site or employing professional public relations staff to run their accounts.
Twitter declined to comment.
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