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Twitter expands hateful conduct policy to include race, ethnicity and national origin under protected categories

Yasmin Ahmed     December 3, 2020

Twitter on Wednesday expanded its hate speech policy to include language that dehumanises people on the basis of race, ethnicity, and national origin. The social media platform, in March 2020, barred language that dehumanised age, disability, or disease.

Twitter noted that under the current rules, it will remove hateful posts from the platform when they are reported. Twitter further noted that the company will also continue to surface potentially violative content through "proactive detection and automation." Twitter said that if an account repeatedly breaks the Twitter Rules, it may temporarily lock or suspend the account.

"In March 2020, we expanded the rule to include language that dehumanizes on the basis of age, disability, or disease. Today, we are further expanding our hateful conduct policy to prohibit language that dehumanizes people on the basis of race, ethnicity, or national origin," Twitter noted in a blog post.

Under the hateful conduct policy, users are prohibited from promoting violence on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. Civil rights group Color of Change, part of a coalition of advocacy organizations that have been pushing tech companies to reduce hate speech online, called the changes "essential concessions" following years of outside pressure, Reuters reported.

A Twitter spokeswoman told the website that the company had planned from the start to add new categories to the policy over time after testing to ensure it can consistently enforce updated rules. "If an account is engaging primarily in abusive behavior, or is deemed to have shared a violent threat, we will permanently suspend the account upon initial review," the spokesperson said.

In related news, Twitter has also started labelling tweets with manipulated media in India. Twitter came up with the policy in February and announced that it would label fabricated or edited photos and videos which are not authentic. The rule was implemented from March 5, 2020.

According to Twitter, media is manipulated when the content is edited substantially in a manner that fundamentally alters its composition, sequence, timing, or framing, any visual or auditory information. These include new video frames, overdubbed audio, or modified subtitles that have been added or removed and whether media depicting a real person has been fabricated or simulated.

Twitter had said that it plans to work on the manipulative media by reducing its visibility, adding labels to the tweet or by showing a warning before people liked or shared it and by providing additional explanations such as a landing page with more context.

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