October 15, 2017

After Boycott, Twitter To Make Aggressive Rules To Deal With Hateful, Abusive Tweets

Days after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised there would be the more aggressive stance on their rules coming to Twitter, the company outlined its new policy changes in an email to its Trust & Safety Council (a group of outside organizations that advises the company on its policies against abuse) on Tuesday.


The email, first reported on by Wired, details how the company will tackle abusive behavior, including plans to treat hateful imagery and hate symbols on the platform as “sensitive media” – but it’s still trying to clearly define what falls under that.

Among the changes, Twitter said it would immediately and permanently suspend any account it identifies as being the original poster of “non-consensual nudity,” including so-called “creepshots” of a sexual nature taken surreptitiously and hidden camera content. Previously, the company treated the original poster of the content the same as those who re-tweeted it, and it resulted only in a temporary suspension.

The company now updated its policies on several circumstances, including Non-consensual nudity, Unwanted sexual advances, Hate symbols and imagery, Violent groups, and Tweets that glorify violence. The policy changes were specifically aimed at protecting women who were subjected to sexual harassment online.

The swift action comes after an outcry from users last week when actress Rose McGowan’s account was temporarily blocked in the midst of her pointing out the worrying phenomenon of sexual harassment in Hollywood, for violating Twitter policies. Many reacted to her suspension with a hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter, which urged people to forgo tweeting for a day to pressure Twitter into improving how it vets content.

In its email to the Trust and Safety Council, Twitter said it would also develop a system allowing bystanders to report unwanted sexual advances on the social network, whereas in the past it relied on one of the parties involved in the conversation to come forward before taking action.

Similarly, it will take action when sexually charged media and conversations are reported by not just participants in such exchanges, but also observers.

Twitter also said it also will take unspecified actions against “organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause.”

The company said it would enact the changes in the weeks ahead.

Abusive behavior has been a plague on the social network for years. Twitter has long been criticized for not taking effective action against hate speech and harassment on its platform. Recent indicators like #WomenBoycottTwitter point to users becoming increasingly frustrated with their experience on the site.

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