Twitter has announced a new policy that prohibits “violent speech” on its platform, with a particular focus on coded language used to indirectly incite violence. The move comes as Twitter prepares to comply with new European Union rules that require tech companies to police their platforms more effectively for material that promotes terrorism, child sexual abuse, hate speech, and commercial scams.
Under the new policy, Twitter users will be prohibited from threatening to damage civilian homes and infrastructure that is essential to daily, civic, or business activities. The policy states that “healthy conversations can’t thrive when violent speech is used to deliver a message. As a result, we have a zero-tolerance policy towards violent speech in order to ensure the safety of our users and prevent the normalization of violent actions.”
Twitter’s new policy builds on an existing rule against violent threats that has been in place since October 2021, a year before the company was bought by Elon Musk for $44 billion. The old rule stated that Twitter has a “zero-tolerance policy against violent threats,” with violators facing immediate and permanent suspension of their account.
While the new policy represents an expansion of Twitter’s efforts to combat violent speech on its platform, some changes appear to be cosmetic. For instance, the prohibition of violent threats and wishing harm on individuals or groups was previously housed in a section called “Abusive behavior” and is now in a new section called “Violent Speech Policy.”
The company has also kept a policy prohibiting the “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals,” which some transgender advocates had feared would be removed.
However, the effectiveness of the policy will depend on its enforcement, and Twitter has been grappling with issues related to moderation and content regulation. The company has lost the majority of its workforce through mass layoffs, firings, and resignations, raising questions about whether it will be able to effectively enforce its new and existing policies.
The challenges faced by Twitter are not unique, as other social media platforms have also struggled with moderation and content regulation, particularly in countries outside the U.S. and the E.U. However, as a major social media platform with a global reach, Twitter’s efforts to combat violent speech will be closely watched, and its success or failure could have implications for the broader social media landscape.