Twitter bans hateful posts based on religion

by Diana Chandler, posted Thursday, July 11, 2019 (one month ago)

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SAN FRANCISCO (BP) -- Tweets that dehumanize a person because of that person's religion are no longer allowed on Twitter, the company announced Tuesday (July 9).

"Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk," Twitter wrote on its company blog. "As a result, after months of conversations and feedback from the public, external experts and our own teams, we're expanding our rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion."

The rule change is based on comments from more than 8,000 individuals in more than 30 countries who responded to Twitter's request for customer ideas and perspectives in 2018, the company said. The change in the hateful conduct policy is aimed at public safety and is effective immediately.

"You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or serious disease," reads the company's amended hateful conduct policy. "We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories."

Posts found in violation of the policy will be removed, Twitter said. Additional penalties may include relegating an account to read-only mode for varying lengths of time, limiting the tweet's visibility, hiding the tweet behind a message warning the public of its content, withholding the tweet or account in a particular country or permanently suspending an account. Offending tweets posted before the rule change may be deleted, but no other disciplinary action will be taken, Twitter said.

Individuals may report perceived violations at https://help.twitter.com/forms/abusiveuser. Individuals may also appeal Twitter disciplinary decisions at https://help.twitter.com/forms/general?subtopic=suspended.

"Twitter's purpose is to serve the public conversation," the company said. "Violence, harassment and other similar types of behavior discourage people from expressing themselves and ultimately diminish the value of global public conversation. Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely."

Twitter averaged about 330 million active users a month in the first quarter of 2019, according to market data researcher Statista.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.
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