Patriots owner Robert Kraft should be more upset that Twitter allows racist accounts to exist than the fact a username slipped through their filter thanking fans for helping them reach the 1-million mark on the platform Thursday. (USA TODAY Images)
There are quite a few media outlets jumping on the Patriots following¬†a mistake like the one they made Thursday night when the team inadvertently allowed a racist Twitter username to sneak through their filter as they attempted to thank fans who helped them achieve the 1-million mark on Twitter, which was a first for an NFL team.
The team created digital jerseys that superimposed the usernames of fans’ Twitter handles like the one shown below which features the one for PatsFans.com (@PatsFans):
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) November 14, 2014
A cool concept for a team that was trying to make their fans feel special and it was certainly a good idea on their part.
The only problem was, since Twitter, a billion dollar publicly traded company, doesn’t monitor the usernames¬†it allows people to register, a racist account existed. The automated script creating the “thank you” posts¬†for the team then didn’t catch it before it slipped through and as a result they posted it. ¬†Now they’re feeling the heat, which as much as they’re partly to blame, it’s hard to imagine that the next step might be alerting Twitter of a problem that needs to be fixed.
Upon searching after the fact there are thousands of racist and negative usernames registered and permitted by this massive company, who has made their money and fame with a platform allowing those users a place for their 140-character posts. ¬†The fact that Twitter has turned a blind eye and allowed this kind of nonsense, as well as thousands of inappropriate accounts that promote pornography and hate, completely boggles the mind. ¬†The Patriots may take the heat for letting that one account slip through, but the bigger problem is the fact it shouldn’t have been there to begin with.
One would hope that an incident like this helps a team with the type of influence the Patriots have to at least get Twitter to start thinking about doing something about it. ¬†Facebook doesn’t allow it and as Twitter tries to be a bigger competitor in the social media world they need to at least consider how they’re going to conduct things moving forward. ¬†It’s one thing to control free speech and what people post, they should at least be able to control the usernames they’re allowing.
The Patriots have been known for bringing about change in other areas and are a leader in social media. ¬†Hopefully the lesson learned becomes one that Twitter shows some accountability for. ¬†Google, one of the largest leaders in internet advertising, won’t allow ads on sites that “promote hate or racism”. ¬†Since Twitter is powered by ads, you have to wonder how long it will take before policies like that come into play to eliminate these types of accounts from even existing.
Imagine the NFL electing to have all 32 teams pull away from Twitter. With the NFL already focused on improving its image, maybe they won’t want to be associated with a platform that allows this to exist. It sounds crazy to say, but in this day and age nothing should be a surprise when it comes to trying to bring about a change as big as what it would take for a company like Twitter to be forced to take notice.
Either way something needs to be done and blaming the Patriots for Twitter’s blatant oversight, as convenient as it is for the media and fans who dislike this football team, simply isn’t the answer and it needs to happen sooner than later.