Twitter has devoted a new section to “abusive behavior” as part of an update to its rules and policies. Whereas in the past, a sweeping “abuse and spam” section dealt with its policies regarding hate speech and violence, the update clarifies Twitter’s position on the subject.
So what exactly has changed then? As part of the update, Twitter maintains and makes official its stance on freedom of expression from the outset. The introduction to the “Abusive Behavior” rules explicitly state that the company believes in “freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power.” There is also a pragmatism within the new text that underlines the need to curtail intimidation and threatening behavior, in order to allow users to express themselves freely.
“We do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice,” the introduction states.
Another notable addition is the “hateful conduct” subsection. Previously, the Twitter rules contained no specific language targeting hatred, reports The Next Web. Therefore, a restriction on attacks against others on “the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease,” is a progressive step.
Also included is a new section on self-harm, implemented to support users suffering at the hands of trolls or cyberbullies. Here, Twitter states that it will act on reports “that a person is threatening suicide or self-harm.” The measures the company claims it will take include “reaching out” to the person in question to express its concern and “the concern of other users,” or “providing resources such as contact information for our mental health partners.”
Elsewhere, the changes now also deem the publishing of confidential information — such as addresses and Social Security numbers — as abusive behavior. Previously, such conduct was simply regarded as a “content limitation.” Consequently, it will now result in offenders having their accounts temporarily locked or permanently suspended.