Twitter Issues New Guidelines For Tackling Hate Speech

The social media giant Twitter has come under fire over the years for it’s somewhat laid back approach to policy regarding what is and isn’t acceptable conduct on their website.  Well, it would appear that Twitter have taken some of that criticism on board as they have issued new rules regarding abusive behaviour from its users.

The new rules will cover abusive conduct and harassment that can target people for race, ethnicity, sexual orientation,age, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, disability or disease.  Under the new rules being rolled out anyone found to be in breach, and engaging in harassment of other users or issuing hate speech, can have their tweets deleted, or even their account locked.

The express inclusion of gender and gender identity is good news for the transgender community, as it would mean that any transphobic hate speech, or direct abuse towards transgender users, can be reported and, hopefully, action taken.  Considering the amount of abuse members of the trans community receive on Twitter this could create quite the backlog of reported accounts.

In a blog post, Twitter’s Safety Director Megan Cristina said, ‘As part of our continued efforts to combat abuse we’re updating the Twitter Rules to clarify what we consider to be abusive behaviour and hateful conduct.

‘The updated language emphasises that Twitter will not tolerate behaviour intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence other user’s voice.  As always, we encourage diverse opinions and beliefs – but we continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse.

‘Over the past year, we’ve taken several steps to fight abuse, including increasing our investment in policy enforcement so that we can handle more reports with greater efficiency.  One of the areas we’ve found to be effective in this multi-layered strategy of fighting abuse is creating mandatory actions for suspected abusive behaviour, such as email and phone verification, and user deletion of Tweets for violation.

‘These measures curb abusive behaviour by helping the community understand what is acceptable on our platform.’

The new rules will go a long way to helping minority groups that have previously suffered abuse at a frequent rate on Twitter, and may even go a way towards deleting hate groups that have so far suffered no repercussions, such as Westboro Baptist Church.

Despite being established to combat hate speech and abusive behaviour some people have already taken to Twitter to voice their disapproval at the new rules, stating that it infringes on their rights to say what they want, or blaming an LGBT+ anti-white, anti-christian movement for the changes.

It’s not surprising at all that the people most vocal against these new rules are accounts that have themselves engaged in harassing other users in the past and using ‘troll-like’ behaviour.

Time will tell just how effective these new rules will be, but hopefully they will go on to help make Twitter a safer and more enjoyable experience for those using it.

Amy.
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