Twitter Clarifies Guidelines About Banned Content, Touches Doxxing, Revenge Porn And Self-Harm

The social media website has updated its official rules relating to online abuse and what materials can be posted on its network, by broadly outlining a range of impermissible behaviours and transmissions.

Twitter's move comes after the company was widely criticised for not being more proactive in preventing Islamic State from using the social media network to recruit and evangelise to its followers. A 19-year-old was arrested earlier this month for using 57 accounts to recruit and spread ISIS propaganda, and users were warned roughly a fortnight ago that they could be targeted by state-sponsored hackers.

"We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up," Twitter's revised rules say. "In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice."

Users are warned against inciting or promoting violence; inciting or engaging in the harassment of others; direct attacks or the promotion of attacks on others on the basis of various factors; using multiple accounts "with overlapping users" with the intent of evading suspension or bans; impersonating others in a way that is meant to confuse, mislead or deceive and doxxing, or posting "intimate photos or videos".

  • Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.
  • Harassment: You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Some of the factors that we may consider when evaluating abusive behavior include: if a primary purpose of the reported account is to harass or send abusive messages to others;  if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats;  if the reported account is inciting others to harass another account; and  if the reported account is sending harassing messages to an account from multiple accounts.
  • Hateful conduct: 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. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories. 
  • Multiple account abuse: Creating multiple accounts with overlapping uses or in order to evade the temporary or permanent suspension of a separate account is not allowed.
  • Private information: You may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address, or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission. In addition, you may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject's consent. Read more about our private information policy here. 
  • Impersonation: You may not impersonate others through the Twitter service in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others. Read more about our impersonation policy here.

There is also a clause on self-harm, with Twitter outlining the broad steps they may take they have received reports of a user posting content that could be construed as suicidal or harmful to themselves. "When we receive reports that a person is threatening suicide or self harm, we may take a number of steps to assist them, such as reaching out to that person expressing our concern and the concern of other users on Twitter or providing resources such as contact information for our mental health partners."

I've reached out to Twitter's local team to find out who their Australian mental health partners are, as well as what resources might be provided in instances where Australian accounts are reported for posting content that is deemed suicidal or self-harmful. Reuters has reported that Twitter's new guidelines don't come with any changes to their strategy on enforcement, with a spokesperson declining to tell the newswire whether anything was afoot on that front either.

This post originally appeared on Gizmodo Australia


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