Twitter plans to do a better job of responding to users’ reports of abuse by “investing heavily” in improving its review process, according to an internal email leaked by Wired. The company also plans to toughen its rules around violence, hate speech, and abuse in a new attempt to make its platform safer for users. The leaked email doesn’t divulge final rules or full explanations (the phrase “more details to come” appears three times), but it offers the gist of what Twitter intends to do.
A lot of what’s happening here is Twitter broadening existing rules so that hate or abuse that previously slipped by might now be banned. Twitter says it will now ban tweets that “glorify violence,” instead of only banning tweets that make or promote threats. Its definition of prohibited “non-consensual nudity” is expanding to include “creep shots” and hidden camera footage. And the company says it’s going to more thoroughly consider reports of unwanted sexual advances.
One part of the email, referring specifically to non-consensual nudity, seems to sum up the change in approach: “We would rather error on the side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it,” writes Twitter’s head of safety policy.
And Twitter plans to deal with those reports faster. To improve its reviews process, Twitter says it’ll focus on improving its appeals process and decreasing the turnaround time on reviews, getting quicker responses to users.
That said, it’s not clear how far these changes go toward those goals. When it comes to unwanted sexual advances, for instance, Twitter’s new rules sound almost identical to its old rules. The behavior was banned before and remains banned tomorrow; now it’s just going to be more clear about that and improve the reporting process. That won’t do much on its own.
In addition to those changes, Twitter also plans to put hate imagery behind a sensitive media screen and do something or other about hate groups in general. “At a high level, we will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause,” the email says. “More details to come here as well.”
In a statement to Wired, Twitter said that it planned to share the updated rules later this week. You can read the full email in Wired’s story, which includes examples of what will now be banned.
The updates certainly sound like a step forward, but what ultimately matters is whether Twitter and its moderators actually start listening to users when they get reports of hate and harassment, rather than overlooking really obvious problems like they do now. These guidelines largely just give moderators more leeway to remove tweets and ban offenders. Things will only change if they put that expanded latitude to use.