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Twitter has problems. Amnesty International has solutions

The human rights advocacy group issues a report detailing the level of abuse that happens on Twitter and offers some steps to clean up the toxic environment.

Twitter's headquarters at midnight.
Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has put a call out to the public for answers on how to fix the abuse and misinformation that plagues his social network. 

Amnesty International has a few ideas. 

The human rights advocacy firm late Tuesday issued a report, titled "Toxic Twitter," detailing the level of violence and abuse against women on Twitter, going into detail about incidents and exploring the psychological effects of those abuses. 

"As a company, Twitter is failing to respect women's rights online," the report says. 

Amnesty International is the latest to level criticism at Twitter for the dark underside of the social network, which has proven to be a wellspring of online abuse as well as a tool for propaganda. Twitter has vowed to fixed these issues as it struggles to make its network relevant for a broader audience. 

In the final chapter of the report, Amnesty International offered its recommendations. Twitter, it says, needs to do the following:

  • Share more raw data on the nature and levels of abuse against women and other groups, and be more transparent about how the company has responded.
  • Improve how it reports abuses -- for example, basing its decision to restrict content on international human rights laws and standards.
  • Be clearer about how it handles abuses.
  • Improve its security and privacy features, and educate users about them. 

Likewise, the group is calling for the US to pass laws making it a criminal offense to abuse women online, to work with law enforcement on this issue, to invest in public awareness and education campaigns and to offer specialized public services for women who have experienced violence and abuse online. 

While Twitter agreed with many of the recommendations, the company didn't agree with all of Amnesty International's claims.

"The assertion that Twitter is consciously unengaged with human rights issues is an unfair representation not just of the facts, but of the ethos of our dedicated teams, and the core mission of the company," said Vijaya Gadde, head of legal, policy and trust at Twitter, in a statement on Wednesday. 

But the company has made it clear that it's looking to improve. In an earlier livestream discussing the problems, David Gasca, Twitter's product manager on health, noted that the company already has internal data about spam and the toxicity of conversations, but noted those are "all very negative." 

"We really want to think about the health of the community," he said.

Twitter also plans to open its verified accounts system to all users, allowing them to prove their authenticity, which is displayed as a blue checkmark on their account. 

Update, 8:12 a.m. PT: To include a comment from Twitter.

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