Twitter’s new policies on hate speech and harassment roll out in November

Twitter clarifies its rules regarding online behavior

#womenboycotttwitter
Prykhodov / 123RF
While Facebook is embroiled in controversy surrounding fake news, Twitter has problems of its own. The social media platform’s main troubles come in the form of the hordes of trolls, bullies and, sometimes, literal Nazis. The company has struggled with how to deal with this problem for some time, as it tried to walk a fine line between upholding its principles of free speech while ensuring a safe environment for everyone.

As we roll into November, Twitter has posted its updated Rules to underscore how it will enforce them. In a blog post, the social network highlighted some updates. For one thing, context and newsworthiness will determine the actions taken towards abusive behavior.

Alongside this, Twitter will be more clear on how it handles posts related to suicide. For example, anything promoting “suicide games” will instantly be removed. If a post promotes or encourage any type of self harm, the company will move to communicate with the poster.

Spam, even when it makes sense, will not be tolerated. Twitter wants it known that when it reviews an account that may be in violation, it is focusing on “behavioral signals, not the factual accuracy of the information they share.”

Finally, Twitter is providing more resources defining what constitutes “graphic violent” and “adult content,” including a page with examples. This includes “gruesome crime or accident scenes,” and any sort of bodily harm, torture, and mutilation. When it comes to sexual content, even partial nudity is not allowed, though exceptions can be made for “artistic, medical, health, or educational content.” The rules for sexual content extend to drawings, animations, and “humanoid animals.”

Last month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took to the platform to announce that the company would be making some changes to how the platform addresses “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence.”

Twitter officially announced its updated policies in its calendar, which also indicates that revisions and updates would continue until January 10, 2018.

Dorsey’s full comments, via Tech Crunch, include the following: “We see voices being silenced on Twitter every day. We’ve been working to counteract this for the past 2 years. We prioritized this in 2016. We updated our policies and increased the size of our teams. It wasn’t enough. In 2017 we made it our top priority and made a lot of progress. Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re still not doing enough.”

“We’ve been working intensely over the past few months and focused today on making some critical decisions,” Dorsey continued. “We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them. New rules around: unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence. These changes will start rolling out in the next few weeks. More to share next week.”

Dorsey’s tweets were made in response to the WomenBoycottTwitter protest, where a number of people took the day off from the platform in order to protest the platform’s policies regarding harassment of women. Those who organized the protest said that Twitter wasn’t doing enough to handle such harassment.

While the trolls of the Twitter community have gotten more attention in recent years, they have been around since the platform began — in other forms of social media, video games, and anywhere they have a voice. It is an unfortunate fact that the anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in some people.

Update: Added more details Twitter’s new policies.