Twitter tackles toxic tweets by banning ‘hateful conduct’

Dec 18, 2017 | News

By: Julie Arounlasy

Social media platform Twitter started enforcing new rules Monday to close its doors to people associated with hate groups.

“Today, we are starting to enforce these policies across Twitter. In our efforts to be more aggressive here, we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process. We’ll evaluate and iterate on these changes in the coming days and weeks, and will keep you posted on progress along the way,” the company wrote in a statement Monday.

In November Twitter announced they would suspend user’s accounts affiliated with violent organizations such as accounts linked to neo-Nazism.

“You also may not affiliate with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes,” the update reads.

The new rule also bans using “hateful images or symbols” in profile images or profile headers. Twitter will permanently ban users for having hate speech in usernames, display names, and profile bios.

The site paused its verification process in November and removed verified badges from right-wing figures, including Jason Kessler, a white supremacist who organized the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August.

Some concerned users have fled to Gab, a self-declared free speech social media platform.

Twitter suspended an unknown number of accounts on Monday, including one belonging to Jayda Fransen, the Britain First leader whose videos critical of Islam were retweeted multiple times by U.S. President Donald Trump last month.

Twitter also suspended prominent hate groups on the site like American Nazi Party, who called themselves “America’s premier 21st Century National Socialist Organization” with over 13,000 followers.

Tweets can still include hate imagery, but users will have to click through a warning to see them, the company said. Besides being banned from profile photos, hate images may be further restricted where national laws require, as in Germany.

The Nazi swastika was the only specific example of a hateful image that Twitter gave, but the company said it would try to give warnings for all symbols historically associated with hate groups or that depict people as less than human.

Twitter said it had decided not to categorize the U.S. Confederate flag as hateful imagery, citing its place in history.

It’s unclear how Twitter will prioritize taking action and how much will come from public reports as opposed to its own monitoring.