Twitter starts enforcing new policies on violence, abuse, and hateful conduct

Anti racism protestors Richard Spencer

While some heralded Twitter's crackdown as a step toward making the platform safer and more welcoming, others balked at the notion of speech and expression being regulated by a tech firm whose policy enforcement remains largely opaque.

President Donald Trump caused an uproar last month when he retweeted several of Fransen's posts that contained anti-Islam videos.

Monday morning, Twitter suspended the account of the deputy leader of nationalist United Kingdom party Britain First.

Instead of relying on the content of tweets alone, Twitter announced Monday, the company will now take into account what a person's profile contains - whether they're associated with any known hate groups or espouse ideology that violates Twitter's terms and conditions, such as white supremacy or vocal support of terrorist groups. But for years, Twitter billed itself as the "free speech wing of the free speech party", exerting little control over its legions of anonymous users.

"Our hateful conduct policy and rules against abusive behavior prohibit promoting violence against or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of their group characteristics, as well as engaging in abusive behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another person's voice", the company wrote in a Monday blog post.

Tweets can still include hate imagery, but users will have to click through a warning to see them, the company said. "We consider hateful imagery to be logos, symbols or images whose goal is to promote hostility and malice against others based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity/national origin".

Paul Golding Britain First
Britain First leader Paul Golding now barred from

As a private company, Twitter has the legal right to block any speech it wants, since the First Amendment only applies to government control of speech. Twitter has also been criticized for the seemingly arbitrary way it enforces its rules and has previously said it plans to do a better job of responding to users' reports of abuse.

On Monday, Twitter users sympathetic with the white nationalists booted from the platform added the hashtag #twitterpurge to blame the company for playing favorites and said it was silencing voices for offering unpopular opinions.

Britain First leader Paul Golding, 35, and deputy leader Jayda Fransen, 31, are both facing charges in Belfast.

"In our efforts to be more aggressive here, we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process", Twitter said in a statement.

'We'll evaluate and iterate on these changes in the coming days and weeks, and will keep you posted on progress along the way.




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