Twitter Cracks Down On Extremists And Trolls

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Twitter goes after terrorists and trolls, after it revises its rules for dealing with online abuse and hate

Twitter has promised to tackle “abusive behaviour and hateful conduct” on its microblogging service.

Former chief executive Dick Costolo has previously admitted the company “sucks” at dealing with trolls, and that some of the online abuse is “horrifying”.

Revised Rules

Twitter revised its policies in order to deal with trolls, terrorists and others that post abusive content on Twitter. The company revealed the clampdown in a blog posting by Megan Cristina, Twitter’s Director of Trust and Safety.

“Today, as part of our continued efforts to combat abuse, we’re updating the Twitter Rules to clarify what we consider to be abusive behaviour and hateful conduct,” wrote Cristina. “The updated language emphasises that Twitter will not tolerate behaviour 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.”

Blue bird, Twitter © ruforester Fotolia“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 disease,” state the revised rules.

“Over the past year, we’ve taken several steps to fight abuse in order to protect freedom of expression,” wrote Cristina. “We’ve empowered users with tools for blocking, muting, and reporting abusive behaviour, and evolved our policy to capture more types of abusive behaviour. We’ve also increased our investment in policy enforcement so that we can handle more reports with greater efficiency, and bolstered educational resources through a new Twitter Safety Centre.”

She said Twitter has found that a “multi-layered strategy of fighting abuse” is the best policy. Suspected suspected abusive behaviour results in a user having to provide email and phone verification, and even user deletion of Tweets for violations.

“Keeping users safe requires a comprehensive and balanced approach where everyone plays a role,” wrote Cristina.

Twitter Abuse

Twitter has gained an unfortunate reputation for online abuse over the years, but more recently concern has centred on terrorists and extremists such as ISIS using Twitter to spread their twisted messages.

Police have had to investigate past Tweeter threats including abusive and racist tweets for England footballers Ashley Cole and Ashley Young.

Labour MP Stella Creasy has also sought help from police after receiving a stream of abuse on Twitter, including threats of physical and sexual violence.

More recently, Labour MPs who voted for airstrikes in Syria, have also received death threats on Twitter.

Twitter introduced a “report abuse” button into every tweet back in 2013.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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