Twitter continues anti-abuse campaign with updated rules

Twitter has made changes to the “Twitter Rules” that dictate how people are allowed to use its service as part of its efforts to curb abuse on the platform.

Former chief executive Dick Costolo recognized Twitter’s abuse problem in February. Since then, the company has devoted more staff to moderating its service, introduced new harassment reporting tools, and taken steps to limit abusers’ ability to spew filth at their target from numerous Twitter accounts.

Now the company has updated the Twitter Rules to make its stance on abuse even clearer. The updated rules bar Twitter users from making violent threats; sharing another user’s personal information; harassing someone; misusing multiple accounts; impersonating others; and encouraging others to self-harm.

“We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power,” the company says in the new rules, “But that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up.” Basically: freedom of expression only works if it has reasonable boundaries.

The updated rules, like some of Twitter’s other attempts to curb abuse on its platform, have been accused of being misguided or meaningless if the company can’t prove that its efforts are more than a public relations gambit that obfuscate harassment whilst allowing the root of the problem to fester like an infection.

Given the reports about Twitter’s shortcomings and the ability of abusers to use for their own benefit the tools designed to stop them, it’s clear that people still aren’t convinced that the company is doing enough. It’s been almost a year since Twitter made harassment a priority but yet the problem continues to hound it.

At least the company knows this. “Keeping users safe requires a comprehensive and balanced approach where everyone plays a role,” wrote Twitter’s Megan Cristina. “We will continue to build on these initiatives to empower our users and ensure that Twitter remains a platform for people to express themselves.”

There’s always next year.

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