Why #WomenBoycottTwitter is happening today
Your Twitter feed looks different today.
The hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter is one of the top trends Friday as thousands of women announced their intention to stay off the social media platform for 24 hours as part of a protest sparked by the actress Rose McGowan.
McGowan, who is best known for her roles in "Scream" and the television series, "Charmed," had her Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) account suspended temporarily on Thursday after she spoke out against accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is accused of rape, sexual abuse and other misconduct by a growing list of Hollywood stars.
"TWITTER HAS SUSPENDED ME," McGowan announced on Instagram. "THERE ARE POWERFUL FORCES AT WORK. BE MY VOICE."
In a tweet, Twitter says that McGowan's account was temporarily locked because one of her tweets included a private phone number, which is a violation of the platform's rules of service.
Heidi Moore, a New York-based business editor, was one of the first to promote the boycott today. She told CNN that as a survivor of sexual assault, McGowan was lending a voice to many women who cannot speak about their own experiences.
"Twitter seems to be sending a message that they'd rather see us silenced than take real, meaningful action to fix a problem that's plagued Twitter since the beginning … when Rose McGowan was temporarily blocked by Twitter, that amplified the perception of silencing victims of various forms of abuse," Moore said. "The idea behind the boycott is to show Twitter that silence they seem to prefer, so we wanted to show them what it looks like."
Twitter has a global user base of 328 million, but that's nothing compared to Facebook (FB), which has more than 2 billion monthly users. Twitter is a pretty popular way for investors to get stock market news and tips (and it's the platform of choice for President Donald Trump), but for the general audience, Twitter has long struggled to find relevance.
One of the biggest complaints about Twitter is abuse. Many women have complained that they are crudely victimized by anonymous users and Twitter is slow to respond, if at all.
Twitter is on the wrong side of this debate. That the platform is slow to block abuse and trolling of women, but quick to freeze McGowan's account is she was speaking out about abuse, makes Twitter tone-deaf to both the national conversation about sexual abuse and the problems that plague its own platform.
That is what's giving the #WomenBoycottTwitter its power Friday.
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