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Twitter and former CEO Dick Costolo push back against BuzzFeed’s report on Twitter’s abuse problems

Twitter isn’t saying what, exactly, is inaccurate, though.

Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit - Day 2 Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Twitter has an issue with abusive users. We’ve known that for years.

Why Twitter hasn’t been able to solve this problem is a much deeper, tougher question to answer, and one BuzzFeed tackled in a lengthy story Thursday morning.

The gist: Twitter has never made solving its abuse problem a top priority, and former CEO Dick Costolo didn’t see eye-to-eye with other top executives on how to balance cracking down on abuse with the company’s inherent desire to be a free speech platform. As a result, nothing significant got done.

“Product inaction created a honeypot for assholes,” one former employee told BuzzFeed.

But both Twitter’s PR team as well as former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo say BuzzFeed’s reporting is wrong.

Here’s a short blog post Twitter published Thursday.

In response to today’s 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.

And here are some tweets Costolo sent out, specifically referring to a part of BuzzFeed’s piece in which it claimed Costolo censored user questions during public Q&A’s with high profile users, including President Obama and Caitlyn Jenner.

I reached out to BuzzFeed Managing Editor John Paczkowski, who directed me to this tweet.

Paczkowski added that Twitter hasn’t told BuzzFeed what the alleged inaccuracies were; we’ve asked as well. Given Twitter’s language in its blog post, we’re assuming the company isn’t going to list its problems with the piece — which suggests that the general thrust of the story may indeed be accurate.

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