Innovation

Twitter Assembles New Council to Prevent Abuse

by Bo Suh

February 11, 2016
Photo via Flickr (cc)

After seven years in which people could post freely without fear of consequence, Twitter has made recent strides to protect its users from “hateful conduct” and language that incites violence. Part of this endeavor is the Trust and Safety Council, a new coalition that will help the company prevent abuse, bullying, and harassment from occurring on its site.

The council is made up of over 40 organizations such as GLAAD and Feminist Frequency, The Huffington Post reports. It’s unclear how the initiative will fight abuse on such a massive, global platform. Twitter made no comment on whether users should expect changes to the company’s interface.

“With hundreds of millions of Tweets sent per day, the volume of content on Twitter is massive, which makes it extraordinarily complex to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power,” Patricia Cartes, the company’s head of outreach, said.

Throughout 2015, Twitter reassessed and adjusted its stance on unmonitored free speech. In March, it banned revenge porn. In April, it banned language that incited violence by promoting terrorism or attacking people based on “race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability.”

But while “hateful conduct” is prohibited, Twitter was careful to distinguish—and allow—hateful speech. The implication of violence is the differentiating caveat here; while hate speech can be offensive, hurtful, and abusive, it is still allowed under Twitter’s free speech policy. The danger that speech will resulti in action, whether on the aggressor’s part or the victim’s (such as suicide), is what elevates it to the perilous category of hateful conduct.

Currently, Twitter users have the option to block, mute, and report potentially harmful entities. With this new council, hopefully Twitter can track and prevent abuse without leaving that onus on its users.

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Twitter Assembles New Council to Prevent Abuse