More than 7,000 people have signed an online petition asking Twitter to ban offensive trending topics.
Billed as a community empowerment platform, Care2 started the petition “Twitter: No More Offensive Trending Topics!” with an emphasis on topics that could single out and lead to bullying of those in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (GLBTQ) communities.
The petition has a goal of 10,000 signatures and has already collected 7,819 as of Monday morning.
The issue is particularly relevant given the recent surge in offensive trending topics, most notably #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend. That event was shortly followed by the trending of an alleged 14-year-old girl who may have been the victim of sexual assault. While Twitter eventually prevented the girl’s name from appearing as a trending topic, her name circulated long enough to become nearly ubiquitous on the site. Twitter could then not stop the hundreds of thousands of people from using her name in different contexts over the course of a week.
It’s uncertain how much clout the online petition will hold. According Snopes, a myth-busting site, the answer online petitions are merely an example of slacktivism: “[T]he search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society’s rescue without having had to actually get one’s hands dirty or open one’s wallet.”
However, this clearly is an issue that’s resonating with resonating with some users. After the hashtag #reasonstobeatyourgirlfiend became a worldwide trending topic about four months ago, Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, started a Twitter petition to block it. Despite collecting more than 3,000 tweets, Twitter did not issue a response, according to the Act.ly petition site.
In August, however, Costolo tweeted that he’d like the company to edit out “clearly offensive” items from its featured topics, which are normally selected by an algorithm. On Oct. 18, Twitter communications chief Sean Garrett said in a tweet that "there has been no change in policy."
The Daily Dot has reached out to Twitter for a comment and is waiting to hear back.
Illustration by orkboi