Do you ever wonder why sometimes it seems like trolls are so quick to reply to your tweets?
There are many reasons for this, but one tactic to know is that trolls frequently use lists to consolidate victims for targeted harassment.
Trolls may have you on several lists!
How do you check?
Step 1. On the Twitter website, go to the "Lists" menu on the right side of screen. It's currently between Bookmarks and Profile, but these user interfaces are always changing so don't get frustrated! Alternatively, add "/lists" to the URL for your profile.
Step 2. Click the three dots "..." at the top of the Lists section (where you usually see your timeline) and select the "Lists you're on" option.
Another shortcut is to add "/lists/memberships" after your usual twitter.com/[insert_your_handle].
Step 3. Review the lists you are on. Anyone can add you to a new list!
Hopefully, you see lists that seem fairly innocent or useful like I usually do (after some pruning). Maybe you want to even follow some!
Step 4. If you see that you are any suspicious lists, you can remove yourself simply by clicking on the list, then the three dots "..." near the top and choose "Block" the list creator. Twitter will say this will remove us and stop the troll from putting you on any more lists.
Step 5. But, let's say you don't really know if the list creator is nefarious. When in doubt, you can do a "soft block" - simply unblock the account after you blocked it.
You will have been removed from their lists, but they can still add you to new ones and interact with you.
Now, this mitigation is REALLY limited.
In my opinion, just keeping tabs on these lists is mostly useful for situational awareness on who is harassing you:
For public lists, you can not only see the list creator, but also the non-protected user accounts who follow it!
Why do I say it is limited?
1) You could be on so many lists you can't filter them all, while even dealing with a small number of lists can be really hard on your mental health.
You can ask a trusted friend to help, but...
2) Your time is likely better spent strengthening your account security (eg. using two-factor authentication or long, unique passwords for your accounts), planning for physical world harms, and limiting the amount of personal info available to the public.
Know that harassment campaigns can be seriously f#$%ed up.
I always have my students read these essays by @BriannaWu, @sarahjeong, @BostonJoan, and @cwarzel at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/15/opinion/what-is-gamergate.html as a starting point.
Opinion | How an Online Mob Created a Playbook for a Culture War The powerful lesson of a 5-year-old harassment campaign: How to wage a post-truth information war.
Sadly, Twitter is not designed solely for safety. "Safety w/ a capital S" is necessary to keep users, advertisers, and governments happy but, while this attracts great people to the company who truly care about safety/ethics, better safety-by-design is not the highest priority. Instead, you see people and organizations fill in this by speaking out about their experience, sharing knowledge on potential countermeasures, and creating external tools like blockpartyapp.com/how-it-works/, @semiphemeral, Deleteme, or browser extensions.
This post ended up being a long way of saying "here's one thing you can do but there's a bunch of people who care about this problem so take a deep breath, know that you are not alone, and don't shy away from asking for help!"See the work of organizations like @tallpoppyhq, @onlinesosorg, @IWMF, and @iHollaback.
Lastly, employers need to provide this support to their workers (and freelancers they benefit from)! Ask us how we can help with tailored support or check out @tallpoppyhq's work, but also review the resources for employers like the following:
Heart Mob: https://iheartmob.org/resources/org_process
Citizen Clinic: https://github.com/cltc-berkeley/c3ec/blob/master/markdown/Clinic_Curriculum/Modules/Harmful_Information/Mitigation_Framework.mdPEN America's Best Practices for Employers: https://onlineharassmentfieldmanual.pen.org/best-practices-for-employers/