Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is not pleased with a report that alleges he filtered out abusive tweets in a open question-and-answer session with President Barack Obama.
The accusations come from anonymous former Twitter employees speaking to BuzzFeed for a story on how Twitter has and has not addressed abuse on the service.
Costolo allegedly ordered the creation of an algorithm that would filter out abusive replies to the President during the #AskPOTUS event in May 2015. He also directed employees to manually censor tweets, according to the sources.
The same call may have been made for a different question-and-answer session with Caitlyn Jenner.
2/ shows a lack of understanding of the very basics of how trust and safety works at Twitter. Sensationalist nonsense.
dick costolo (@dickc) August 11, 2016
Costolo, who stepped down from the CEO role in June 2015, did not name the specific accusations. Therefore, “total nonsense” and “laughably false” may be referring to the larger piece, which is more than 5,500 words on Twitter’s 10-year history with abuse on the service.
Costolo did not respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed.
Hours later, Twitter released a statement of its own addressing the report.
In response to todays BuzzFeed story on safety, we were contacted just last night for comment and obviously had not seen any part of the story until we read it today. We feel there are inaccuracies in the details and unfair portrayals but rather than go back and forth with BuzzFeed, we are going to continue our work on making Twitter a safer place. There is a lot of work to do but please know we are committed, focused, and will have updates to share soon.
The quick PR move comes as several communications employees at Twitter have departed. Jim Prosser, head of corporate and policy communications, Natalie Kerris, vice president of communications, and Natalie Miyake, corporate communications, have all left this month.
Twitter has long been scrutinized for its apparent inability to effectively address abuse. Just last month, actress Leslie Jones received racist and vulgar tweets that motivated her to temporarily abandon the service until CEO Jack Dorsey reached out.
Following Jones’ case, Twitter chose to permanently suspend Milo Yiannopoulos, the tech editor of conservative news site Breitbart, from the site presumably because he incited his followers to harass Jones.
Dorsey addressed the issue publicly the next week on the company’s quarterly earnings call. “No one deserves to be the target of abuse on Twitter. We haven’t been good enough at ensuring that’s the case, and we need to do better,” he said.