During the course of the week, Twitter again updated its policy to accommodate some new changes. The policy has now been expanded to prohibit what the company calls “dehumanizing speech.” Trolls and mischief makers capitalize on loopholes—without targeting anyone in particular, they post hate speech that can be degrading. The update, according to Twitter, is aimed at dealing with such posts.
The policy has been in the works for a while, and has now been properly finetuned to address comments and content that can affect the moral values of other users. “For the last three months, we have been developing a new policy to address dehumanizing language on Twitter. Language that makes someone less than human can have repercussions off the service, including normalizing serious violence.”
Just to be clear on what its new policy on dehumanizing speech is all about, the microblogging company gave a definition in the following statement:
“Dehumanization: Language that treats others as less than human. Dehumanization can occur when others are denied of human qualities (animalistic dehumanization) or when others are denied of their human nature (mechanistic dehumanization). Examples can include comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic), or reducing groups to a tool for some other purpose (mechanistic).”
Twitter, however, is not the first company online to introduce or expand its policy to forbid the use of such content—Facebook, Google and the likes have all had some policy changes to reflect current happenings on their websites.
Calling “hate speech,” Twitter says it frowns at such content and will do all it can to have it stamped out of its platform. Surely this is not one of those tasks that can be singlehandedly carried out by Twitter, and the company is within its rights to call for feedback from users:
“We want your feedback to ensure we consider global perspectives and how this policy may impact different communities and cultures. For languages not represented here, our policy team is working closely with local non-governmental organizations and policy makers to ensure their perspectives are captured.”
Users will have two weeks to provide their feedback on its proposal, and has provided a form that can be found on Gadde and Harvey’s blog. Users will have the opportunity to provide their rating on a scale of 1-5, provide an example of speech that might violate the new policy, but still forms a healthy conversation on the platform.
Over 70 million accounts have been suspended or permanently removed by Twitter in the last couple of months for policy violation. This is coming in spite of threat to growth and ad revenue. Twitter suspended 70 million accounts in the months of May and June, while similar trend continued in July.
While this might pose threat to the monthly user growth, Twitter appears to be unperturbed by this, but would rather not have a repeat of what went wrong during the last US election. During the 2016 election in the US, some Russian trolls used the social media including Facebook to spread fake news that so much divided the electorates.