How Twitter Is Getting ‘More Aggressive’ About Online Safety

“Online behavior continues to evolve and change."

In October, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised the social network would be taking a "more aggressive stance" in the enforcement of its rules. This month, we're seeing that stance in action, via a newly clarified set of Twitter Rules.

"Online behavior continues to evolve and change, and at Twitter, we have to ensure those changes are reflected in our rules in a way that's easy to adhere to and understand," the company said in a November 3 blog post.



Twitter has been struggling with online hatred for years, and not even the company has been happy with its progress. "We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform, and we've sucked at it for years," former CEO Dick Costolo said in an internal memo leaked in 2015. The company has caught even more flak as high-profile users like Leslie Jones, Lena Dunham, and Ed Sheeran have left Twitter because of its trolling problem. And just last month, Twitter suspended the account of actress Rose McGowan and initially offered no explanation.

Now, perhaps, the clarifications will make the social network's regulations easier to follow and enforce. For one, Twitter has vowed to examine the context of a tweet to determine if it's abusive and if the account behind should be subject to disciplinary action. For the tweets indicating harm directed inward, however, the community has doubled down on its promise to share suicide prevention resources when it senses a user is suicidal.

Even if a post isn't overtly harmful, though, it can still offend the Twitter community, especially if it contains graphic violence or adult content. And with these updated rules, the company has articulated the types of imagery it believes falls into either category.

Last but in no way least, Twitter is explaining how it's cracking down on tweets that are simply annoying. The blog post reiterated the company focuses on "behavioral signals" when identifying spam, not factual accuracy.

"We have worked on this clarified version of our rules for the past few months to ensure it takes into account the latest trends in online behavior, considers different cultural and social contexts, and properly sets expectations around what's allowed on Twitter," the company wrote in the blog post.

Reactions to the reworded rules have been mixed, with many users thinking the social network still isn't taking enough action. "We're not banning Nazis or racists because they bring us engagement$$ - Twitter," tweeted @GuilleCummings.

"How about you ban people who advocate ethnic cleansing instead of verifying them," asked @RobJamesBerry.

Perhaps the company has further to go, but for now, we're hoping we can all stay safer, with Twitter becoming a medium of communication instead of a medium of hatred.

Cover image via Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

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