Twitter Cracks Down on ‘Hate Speech’

The Twitterverse is now governed by a new set of rules. On Monday, Twitter officially began enforcing its new policy aimed at cracking down on what it deems as hateful and harmful behavior. In particular, Twitter says those who express an affiliation with groups that use or celebrate violence to achieve their aims will be permanently banned from the platform. In addition, Nazi swastikas will now be hidden, and users will be asked to opt in with a "sensitive media" prompt for certain controversial content.

The new rules come as Twitter is the latest in a long line of social platforms to face criticism for failure to police violent, threatening or criminal activity on their sites. YouTube recently responded to similar criticism, while Facebook and Instagram have also instituted stricter rules for users. Madalyn Sklar, social media marketing specialist, supports these moves. "These places should be a place where we can go and connect, and in doing so feel safe that we're not being threatened," she tells KTRH.

Sklar also doesn't believe the new policy is aimed at any one group or viewpoint. "There are a lot of people and a lot of groups that could fall into this category," she says. "There are people out there making threats, and it's just not the platform to be doing this."

Houston-based social media commentator Kami Huyse with Zoetica Media says Twitter has specified specific threatening behaviors that will trigger a ban. "If you're giving threats to people about serious physical harm, death or disease, then (Twitter) is going to shut you down," she says. At the same time, Huyse acknowledges that Twitter is trying to walk a fine line between free speech and policing content. "Twitter has said that they are going to have an appeals process in place, because they probably will make some mistakes," she says.

Since last month, Twitter has also been penalizing users whose profiles include "hateful imagery and display names," or who “use their profile bio to engage in abusive behavior."

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