Twitter Revealed a Host of Updates to Its Safety Policies

Twitter's Trust and Safety Council is being kept busy

Twitter outlined steps it is taking to avoid reactions like this ljubaphoto/iStock
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Twitter responded quickly to a tweetstorm late last week by CEO Jack Dorsey regarding the social network’s efforts to keep its users safe.

Erin Griffith of Wired obtained an email from Twitter head of safety policy John Starr to the social network’s Trust and Safety Council, in which he addressed updates on the following topics:

  • Non-consensual nudity
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Hate symbols and imagery
  • Violent groups
  • Tweets that glorify violence

A Twitter spokesperson said in a statement, “Although we planned on sharing these updates later this week, we hope our approach and upcoming changes, as well as our collaboration with the Trust and Safety Council, show how seriously we are rethinking our rules and how quickly we’re moving to update our policies and how we enforce them.”

Starr’s points on each of the topics above follow:

Non-consensual nudity: Twitter will begin “immediately and permanently” suspending accounts that are identified as the original sources of content of this sort, or if those accounts make it clear that the content is being posted to harass a certain target.

Starr added that Twitter’s definition of non-consensual nudity is being expanded to include upskirt imagery, “creep shots” and hidden-camera content, writing, “While we recognize that there’s an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it’s nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually. We would rather err on the side of protecting victims and remove this type of content when we become aware of it.”

Unwanted sexual advances: Starr said Twitter will update it rules to reinforce the fact that non-consensual conversations and exchanges of media are unacceptable, adding, “We will continue taking enforcement action when we receive a report from someone directly involved in the conversation. Once our improvements to bystander reporting go live, we will also leverage past interaction signals (block, mute, etc.) to help determine whether something may be unwanted and action the content accordingly.”

Hate symbols and imagery: Starr wrote that Twitter is “still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy,” adding that hateful imagery and hate symbols will now be treated as sensitive media, the same way the social network handles adult content and graphic violence.

Violent groups: Twitter is also defining what will be covered here, and Starr wrote, “At a high level, we will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause.”

Tweets that glorify violence: Twitter already takes enforcement actions against direct violent threats (“I’m going to kill you”), vague violent threats (“Someone should kill you”) and wishes and hopes of physical harm, death or disease (“I hope someone kills you”). Starr said similar treatment will apply to content that glorifies (“Praise be to for shooting up. He’s a hero!”) or condones (“Murdering makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services”) such actions.

Finally, Starr said that “in the coming weeks,” Twitter will:

  • Update Twitter’s rules, including the addition of the new policies mentioned above.
  • Update Twitter’s media policy to specify what is considered adult content, graphic violence and hate symbols.
  • Launch a stand-alone page in its Help Center to explain the factors it considers when making enforcement decisions and detailing the enforcement options that are available.
  • Updating the language in communications to users who violate its policies. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.