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Updating our rules against hateful conduct

By Twitter Safety

We create our rules to keep people safe on Twitter, and they continuously evolve to reflect the realities of the world we operate within. Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research* shows that dehumanising language increases that risk. 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 dehumanises others on the basis of religion. 

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If reported, Tweets that break this rule sent before today will need to be deleted, but will not directly result in any account suspensions because they were Tweeted before the rule was set.

Why start with religious groups?

Last year, we asked for feedback to ensure we considered a wide range of perspectives and to hear directly from the different communities and cultures who use Twitter around the globe. In two weeks, we received more than 8,000 responses from people located in more than 30 countries.

Some of the most consistent feedback we received included:

  • Clearer language — Across languages, people believed the proposed change could be improved by providing more details, examples of violations, and explanations for when and how context is considered. We incorporated this feedback when refining this rule, and also made sure that we provided additional detail and clarity across all our rules
  • Narrow down what’s considered — Respondents said that “identifiable groups” was too broad, and they should be allowed to engage with political groups, hate groups, and other non-marginalized groups with this type of language. Many people wanted to “call out hate groups in any way, any time, without fear.” In other instances, people wanted to be able to refer to fans, friends and followers in endearing terms, such as “kittens” and “monsters.” 
  • Consistent enforcement — Many people raised concerns about our ability to enforce our rules fairly and consistently, so we developed a longer, more in-depth training process with our teams to make sure they were better informed when reviewing reports. For this update it was especially  important to spend time reviewing examples of what could potentially go against this rule, due to the shift we outlined earlier. 

Through this feedback, and our discussions with outside experts, we also confirmed that there are additional factors we need to better understand and be able to address before we expand this rule to address language directed at other protected groups, including:

  • How do we protect conversations people have within marginalized groups, including those using reclaimed terminology? 
  • How do we ensure that our range of enforcement actions take context fully into account, reflect the severity of violations, and are necessary and proportionate? 
  • How can – or should – we factor in considerations as to whether a given protected group has been historically marginalized and/or is currently being targeted into our evaluation of severity of harm? 

We’ll continue to build Twitter for the global community it serves and ensure your voices help shape our rules, product, and how we work. As we look to expand the scope of this change, we’ll update you on what we learn and how we address it within our rules. We’ll also continue to provide regular updates on all of the other work we’re doing to make Twitter a safer place for everyone @TwitterSafety.

 

*Examples of research on the link between dehumanising language and offline harm:

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