Twitter is changing its rules for what you're allowed to tweet in hopes of keeping its users safer from harassment and verbal abuse.

Policies around abusive behavior, which were once buried in Twitter’s “abuse and spam” section, now appear at the top of the list of rules. Making violent threats is the number one no-no.

“Users may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism. Users also may not make threats or promote violence against a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age or disability.”

Engaging in abuse or harassment will also get you in trouble. What constitutes harassment? Examples include behavior that's one-sided and includes threats, one user inciting other users to harass someone, and a user sending harassing messages from multiple accounts.

“The updated language emphasizes that Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate or use fear to silence another user’s voice. As always, we embrace and encourage diverse opinions and beliefs — but we will continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse,” Megan Cristina, director of trust and safety, wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.

Related: Social Media Shaming: Just Don’t Do It

If an account is found to be in violation of any Twitter rules, Twitter may suspend or lock the account temporarily or permanently.

At least 72 percent of adult internet users have experienced some form of online harassment, ranging from name-calling to humiliation to threats of violence, according to the Pew Research Center. The Washington Post reports:

“High-profile hotbeds of abuse — such as the attacks on people advocating for inclusion of women in gaming, better known as “ Gamergate” — are just a slice of the world’s largest harassment pie, which targets minorities, religious groups, journalists, people who express political viewpoints, celebrities, gay people, homophobic people, elderly people…”

Twitter did not name any specific people or groups the rules were intended to protect or target, but a 2015 report from the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit research organization, found at least 46,000 Twitter accounts supporting ISIS and the Islamic State. Congressional lawmakers recently proposed legislation that would require social media companies to notify federal authorities of any “terrorist activity.”

Another new Twitter rule aims to help people who may want to hurt themselves. If the social media giant gets reports of a user threatening to hurt himself, Twitter will reach out to express concern and offer resources, such as contact information for one of their mental health partners.

Related: How to Complain on Social Media Without Getting Sued (or Worse)


Like this article? Share it with friends by clicking the Facebook or Twitter button below. And don't forget to visit our Facebook page!

Angela is a Pulitzer Prize-winning digital editor with more than 15 years of experience delivering news and information to audiences worldwide. Prior to joining SafeBee, she was the features editor for Boston.com at The Boston Globe, overseeing health, travel, entertainment, business and lifestyle coverage. Before moving to features, she was the news and homepage editor, covering stories such as the Boston Marathon bombing, Red Sox World Series victories, presidential elections, a papal inauguration, and more. Her favorite safety tip: Clean your phone! The average cell phone has 18 times more germs than the toilet handle in a men’s restroom.