Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Twitter rolls out stricter rules on abusive content

Twitter had this message for its alt-right users today. Spencer Platt  Getty Images Twitter had this message for its alt-right users today. Spencer Platt Getty Images
Melody Ballard | 19 December, 2017, 11:09

The group did not respond to a request for comment, but shared links to articles about the suspension on its Facebook page which has a blue tick.

After months of promising a crackdown on hate speech and abuse on Twitter, the company on Monday suspended several accounts tied to an ultra-nationalist British group whose inflammatory anti-Muslim videos were retweeted by President Trump last month.

For now, the most prominent accounts that have been removed for running afoul of these rules were three affiliated with a far-right United Kingdom group known as "Britain First".

Twitter users may have to start thinking twice about what they post on social media.

"While we want people to feel free to share media that reflects their creativity or individuality, or to show what's happening in the world, we will take action when it crosses the line into abuse towards a person, group, or protected category", the company said. But for years, Twitter billed itself as the "free speech wing of the free speech party", exerting little control over its legions of anonymous users.

The social media company also announced Monday it would begin enforcing updates to its rules on "hateful conduct and abusive behavior".

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Twitter, which allows users to display pseudonyms, said that it will also take down accounts that use their display names, profile bio or user name to target a protected group of people with violent threats or abusive slurs.

Privately owned tech companies are not subject to the First Amendment, which ensures the right to speech free from government censorship. It's also classifying hateful imagery like logos, symbols, or images that are used to promote hostility against others based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity as "sensitive media".

In addition to Golding and Fransen, the BBC reports that American Nazi Party, the Traditionalist Working Party and other neo-Nazi or alt-right accounts have been suspended for failing to comply with Twitter's new policy.

On Monday, Twitter users sympathetic with the white nationalists booted from the platform added the hashtag #twitterpurge to blame the company for playing favorites and said it was silencing voices for offering unpopular opinions.

So long as governmental forces are "currently engaging in (or have in engaged in)" peace-making efforts, Twitter said, violent tweets, messaging and other incidents will not be held to the same standard as individuals espousing similarly violent rhetoric.

'We'll evaluate and iterate on these changes in the coming days and weeks, and will keep you posted on progress along the way.

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