Thursday 22 August 2019

Twitter policy update to focus on reports of abusive behaviour

New rules are to be introduced that will take into account if content reported as abusive
New rules are to be introduced that will take into account if content reported as abusive

Martyn Landi

Twitter has vowed to more closely examine reports of abusive behaviour in the wake of criticism over how it handles claims of inappropriate content.

New rules are to be introduced that will take into account if content reported as abusive is "newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest" before taking action against it.

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey said last month the company was working to "counteract" voices being silenced, after the site was criticised for temporarily suspending actress Rose McGowan's account when she made accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

The social media site has now announced an update to its site rules it says will "clarify our policies and how we enforce them" and will also focus on taking a stricter view on the promotion of self-harm.

Last month a leaked internal memo obtained by Wired revealed the company was planning a major overhaul of its policies, and would introduce new restrictions and reporting tools to help improve safety on the site.

In a new blog post from the Twitter Safety team, the firm said the policy updates focused on abusive behaviour, self-harm, spam and graphic content.

"While the fundamentals of our policies and our approach have not changed, this updated version presents our rules with more details and examples," the social media giant said.

"In the weeks ahead, we'll launch separate pages for each of our policies to provide even more context about what each policy covers and our rationale for enforcement."

On abusive behaviour, Twitter said it now take into account if a post was "newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest" before deciding on appropriate enforcement action to be taken.

In relation to spam, Twitter said it would now focus on "behavioural signals" - such as excessive posting of similar tweets - rather than if the information included was factually accurate.

The company, along with Facebook and Google, appeared before the US Congress earlier this week to answer concerns over political advertising on their platforms.

The social media site also made headlines recently over its decision to ban two Russia-based news outlets over allegations they were part of a state-sponsored plan to disrupt the US election.

"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 behaviour, considers different cultural and social contexts, and properly sets expectations around what's allowed on Twitter," the company said.

"We incorporated feedback from our global Trust and Safety Council, who provided important guidance about how to best present our policies to the world.

"On November 22, we will share another version of our rules, which will include new policies around violent groups, hateful imagery, and abusive usernames. We are constantly evaluating our rules and iterating to make them clearer.

"As always, we appreciate your feedback, and we are looking forward to continuing working to make Twitter safer, together."

PA Media

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