Twitter’s new rules ban ‘hateful conduct,’ may thwart ISIS propagand …

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Twitter has set new rules banning accounts that promote violence or threaten others.
Image of a Twitter bird

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Twitter has set new rules banning accounts that promote violence or threaten others.

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc has clarified its definition of abusive behavior that will prompt it to delete accounts, banning “hateful conduct” that promotes violence against specific groups.

The social media company disclosed the changes on Tuesday in a blog post, following rising criticism it was not doing enough to thwart Islamic State’s use of the site for propaganda and recruitment.

“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,” Megan Cristina, director of Trust and Safety, said in the blog.

The new rules do not mention Islamic State or any other group by name.

“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,” according to the revised rules.

The company previously used a more generic warning that banned users from threatening or promoting “violence against others.”

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J.M. Berger, co-author of a March 2015 Brookings Institute “census” of ISIS Twitter use, which found that the militant group had operated at least 46,000 accounts from September to December of last year, said the change would lead to more aggressive reporting of abuse by users who flag accounts that break the rules.

“The new definition is much clearer and takes some of the guesswork out of determining if a Tweet violates the rules,” Berger said.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, who heads the Digital Terrorism and Hate Project at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said that “terrorists and hate groups will leave” if Twitter enforces the revised rules.

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He said that would require blocking repeat offenders from setting up new accounts with altered handles and remove thousands of existing counts that violate the policy.

Tuesday’s announcement did not disclose changes to Twitter’s enforcement strategy. A company spokesman declined to say if any were in the works.

The new rules also said that Twitter might respond to reports that somebody is considering “self-harm” by contacting the person to express concern and provide contact information to mental health practitioners.

Lawmakers in Congress proposed legislation earlier this month that would require social media operators, including Twitter and Facebook Inc, to notify federal authorities of any detected “terrorist activity.”

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  • The inclusion of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” categories would on the surface appear to prevent expressions of homophobia and transphobia, but I’m sure the hatemongers will find a way to fit them in. The same is also true of woman hatred, wherein the right-wing sneer that abortions are motivated by “conveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenience” but I am sure the haters will keep being able to express it there. It would be better to let the right-wing say what they really think and then suffer the social opprobrium they merit for their despicable behavior. What they don’t understand is most Americans find LGBTs and women who have abortions considerably less offensive than we do the right-wing.

  • Goodness! Physician, heal thyself! How did you turn a report on the new rules aimed at stopping ISIS and the like from using twitter, to a bashing of the right-wing? Seems to me you are the one filled with hate. I hope you find some peace.

  • Nah, ya got me wrong. It’s easy to speak of ISIS, Al Queda, The Taliban, and the like and seamlessly discuss the American Political Religious Right, because the goal is the same, just the name by which they refer to deity is different. Gotta admit, though, theirs is more creative, calling the One God “Allah.” The way we call God “God” is kind of like naming your dog “Dog.” Of course, they ban a lot of other stuff we don’t, like photography, art, and music. But then we are so hung up about sex, it all evens out. If we can defeat the extremists all over, we’ll all find peace. I always fight tyranny with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart. Good night, good afternoon, and good morning!

  • “Gotta admit, though, theirs is more creative, calling the One God “Allah.” The way we call God “God” is kind of like naming your dog “Dog.””

    Ha ha! Great stuff! Except for the small detail that Allah actually just means God in Arabic, and is used by Muslims and Arab speaking Christians alike, but hey! Don’t let facts get in the way of bashing those evil Christians who are “exactly the same” as ISIS.

  • That’s very helpful – the stuff about the term “Allah,” that is. The rest, not so much. Your last sentence seems sarcastic. Why not just state the point you wish to make directly? I will tell you this: if you dispute my thesis, which is backed by facts including that more Americans in America have died at the hands of Christian terrorists than Islamic ones, say why instead of just being silly.

  • This is about banning hate speech against Islam.
    Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, who in 2011 invested $300 million in the social network, now owns 34.9 million shares of Twitter’s common stock, according to a new regulatory filing (pdf).
    At nearly 5.2%, his stake in the company is now larger than that of Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder and newly re-minted CEO, whose 21.86 million shares give him 3.2% of the company, according to FactSet. (The prince previously had a stake of roughly 3%.)

    After the prince increased his shares, this news hits.