New Twitter Rules Ban Mean Speech
Like your mom used to say: If you don’t have anything nice to tweet, don’t tweet anything at all
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.
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.
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