Twitter finally updates rules to ban racist hate speech

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Twitter announced that its rules will now ban racist hate speech that “dehumanizes based on race, ethnicity, and national origin” — prompting many to ask how the company has only adopted this rule now.

The company announced the change on 2 December.

“While we encourage people to express themselves freely on Twitter, abuse, harassment and hateful conduct continue to have no place on our service,” a line reads from its latest blog post.  

This comes after a series of changes that the social media platform has made in recent years.

This includes prohibiting hate speech against religious groups in July 2019. Earlier this year, the platform banned language that dehumanises on the basis of age, disability, or disease.

In its blog update on racist hate speech, Twitter provided examples of the types of tweets that will no longer be allowed on the platform.

These include:

  • “All [national origin] are cockroaches who live off of welfare benefits and need to be taken away.”
  • “People who are [race] are leeches and only good for one thing.”
  • “There are too many [national origin/race/ethnicity] maggots in our country and they need to leave!”

Too little, too late?

It’s certainly a welcome and necessary change, but one that comes roughly fourteen years after the social media platform’s inception in 2006. 

Not to mention the fact that the internet is infamous for toxicity and hate speech. 

This sentiment is echoed by some Twitter users, who questioned how racist hate speech was allowed on the platform in the first place.

Twitter on its approach to addressing hateful conduct

Twitter also adds on its blog post that it is taking a research-driven approach with the Twitter Rules.

“In addition to applying our iterative and research-driven approach to the expansion of the Twitter Rules, we’ve reviewed and incorporated public feedback to ensure we consider a wide range of perspectives,” the company said.

According to Twitter, some of the main issues it has received consistent feedback on include inconsistent enforcement of rules and the need for clearer language.

The company says that it is working with trusted partners to address dehumanising speech.

“As part of this update, we convened a global working group of third-party experts to help us think about how we could appropriately address dehumanising speech around the complex categories of race, ethnicity, and national origin,” it said.

However, whether the platform will effectively implement its anti-hate-speech policies remains to be seen.

Feature image: MORAN on Unsplash

Read more: Twitter’s verified programme will return in 2021

Wiehahn Diederichs


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