Twitter is notoriously terrible at dealing with harassment, so much so that the company has felt it necessary to build more tools and hire more employees to deal with the problem. On Tuesday, the company unveiled its new terms of service in an effort to double down on its commitment to the issue.
“As part of our continued efforts to combat abuse, we’re updating the Twitter Rules to clarify what we consider to be abusive behavior and hateful conduct,” wrote Megan Cristina, the director of Trust + Safety at the company, in a blog post. “The updated language emphasizes that Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice. As always, we embrace and encourage diverse opinions and beliefs–but we will continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse.”
However, The Verge’s Casey Newton pointed out that the new rules look a lot like the old rules rearranged and copy edited differently. For example, the new guidelines have moved “Violent threats” from “Content Boundaries and Uses of Twitter” to the “Abusive Behavior” section, and insignificantly alters the language used in it. It also moves “Spam” from a section called “Abuse and Spam” to its own section called “Spam.” How about that.
The one significant addition is a new section that bans “hateful conduct” that targets users on the basis of their race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, disability, or disease. The rule also bans creating multiple accounts for the primary purpose of inciting harm toward others based on those categories. At the same time, the old harassment rules likely prevented this sort of behavior as well.
Regardless, Twitter has been consistently inconsistent in how it deals with abusive users, so these rules won’t mean much unless they are more rigorously upheld. Like, as much as I’d like to think that putting on a cool new hat makes me a new, better person, it’s still just dumb old me in here.
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