Tech

Leaked Twitter Emails Show An Imminent Crackdown On ‘Hate Symbols’

Twitter plans on taking a stricter stance on content like “hate symbols and imagery,” “violent groups,” and “non-consensual nudity,” among others, according to leaked emails obtained by Wired.

The social media company already has mechanisms and policies in place for combatting what it deems unsavory content, as noted in the internal documents. It also has been discussing revamping its tools for removing or suppressing material for some time.

But Twitter wants to go even further.

For example, a subsection titled “Violent groups” with an indicator that it’s “new” reads:

We are still defining the exact scope of what will be covered by this policy. At a high level, we will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause. More details to come here as well (including insight into the factors we will consider to identify such groups).

Another subsection called “Tweets that glorify violence (new)” outlines certain examples.

We already take enforcement action against direct violent threats (‘I’m going to kill you’), vague violent threats (‘Someone should kill you’) and wishes/hopes of serious physical harm, death, or disease (‘I hope someone kills you’),” the internal email reads. “Moving forward, we will also take action against content that glorifies (‘Praise be to for shooting up. He’s a hero!’) and/or condones (‘Murdering makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services’).

The adjustments to Twitter’s policies comes only roughly a week after the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter was being shared rapidly across the social media network in protest of actress Rose McGowan’s account suspension. McGowan, one the many alleged victims of sexual assault by Hollywood produce Harvey Weinstein, used Twitter to publicize accusations and help start a trend for others to come out.

Twitter said it locked her account because she posted a personal phone number.

The tech company has been hard-pressed to balance both clamoring over harassment and abuse with cultivating a platform with completely free expression, devoid of censorship.

In a practice done multiple times before, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey used his own account Friday to explain his and his company’s thought process on the ostensible conflict between the two.

The decision to get more aggressive with the removal of certain content (perhaps acts of constant censorship) is somewhat surprising given the suspension of McGowan’s account, as well as the fact it received substantial amounts of criticism for its recent decision to purge a campaign ad for Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

Blackburn, who is running for Senate, claims in the campaign video to have “stopped the sale of baby body parts,” as she chaired a House panel investigating the purchases of fetal tissue by the nonprofit Planned Parenthood. A representative for Twitter later told Blackburn’s vendors that the ad was removed last week because the lawmaker’s description of fetal tissue is considered “an inflammatory statement that is likely to evoke a strong negative reaction.”

Twitter later reversed the decision and reinstated the video. It then expressed that it would “refine” some of its policies, seemingly indicating an imminent shift towards an ethos of free expression.

The Daily Caller News Foundation was able to confirm the emails through a spokesman for Twitter.

“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,” the representative told TheDCNF, “and how quickly we’re moving to update our policies and how we enforce them.”

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