Twitter has been a battleground for some of the biggest social movements of 2017, from the voices of #MeToo to the #WomensMarch. But at the same time that women's voices have risen up and united online, they've also been shut down.
After a series of incidents of abuse that came to a head with Rose McGowan's temporary lockout and the resulting #WomenBoycottTwitter, Twitter finally took action. In early November, the company published an updated version of its community guidelines, the Twitter Rules, which intended to "clarify our policies and how we enforce them."
Now, these new policies are officially going into effect. In a blog post titled "Enforcing New Rules to Reduce Hateful Conduct and Abusive Behavior," the Twitter Safety Team focused on two new policies related to violence and physical harm. Beginning today, "accounts that affiliate with organizations that use or promote violence" will be held accountable for violating the Twitter Rules, as will anyone who posts "content that glorifies violence or the perpetrators of a violent act." Twitter says offending Tweets will need to be taken down. If there is a second offense, the account in question will be permanently suspended.
In addition to enforcing new rules, Twitter is also expanding the meaning of others. For example, accounts that post abusive or threatening materials in their profile information — this includes your username and bio — will be permanently suspended. The company says violent threats as well as "multiple slurs, epithets, racist or sexist tropes, [and anything that] incites fear, or reduces someone to less than human" constitute abusive behavior.
Posting hateful imagery in your profile or header images will not result in suspension, but will be required to be removed. This includes, "logos, symbols, or images whose purpose is to promote hostility and malice against others based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin."
There's still much work to be done and Twitter's efforts feel delayed in light of everything that has happened in the past year. While they seem like a step in the right direction, putting new policies into words is far easier than putting them into action. 2018 will be a true test for the platform and as users, the public will need to hold Twitter accountable for enforcing its new rules.
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