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Elon Musk’s Twitter launches new ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against violent speech

Elon Musk’s Twitter launches new ‘zero-tolerance’ policy against violent speech

A new “zero tolerance” policy towards violent speech has officially been launched by Twitter.

The new policy was announced in a tweet on Wednesday and appears to expand on some concepts from its previous violent threats policy while also cutting down on a few others.

The company announced in a tweet on Wednesday that its new Violent Speech policy prohibits violent threats, wishes of harm, glorification of violence and incitement of violence on its platform.

While the old policy said statements expressing “a wish or hope that someone experiences physical harm, making vague or indirect threats, or threatening actions that are unlikely to cause serious or lasting injury” are not actionable, the new policy holds that users “may not wish, hope, or express desire for harm”.

“Twitter has a zero-tolerance approach towards Violent Speech, and in most cases, we will suspend any account violating this policy,” Twitter Safety said.

“For less severe violations, we may require you to delete the content before you can access your account again.

“If you believe a tweet violates this policy, please report it to us right away. As always, if you think we made a mistake, you can file an appeal by following the process here.”

The new policy does not explicitly provide examples of what constitutes severe and less severe violent speech.

While the company said it would permanently ban a user’s account for violating the new policy and temporarily suspend a user for “less severe cases”, it does not differentiate a “less severe” case from a severe one.

The company also said it allows expressions of violent speech when there is no clear abusive or violent context, such as during heated consensual speech between friends “or during discussion of video games and sporting events”.

Some figures of speech, satire, or artistic expression are allowed, Twitter noted, such as when the context is expressing a viewpoint “rather than instigating actionable violence or harm”.

The new policy is the latest update to Twitter’s safety policy under Elon Musk, who has called himself a “free-speech absolutist”.

It remains to be seen how Twitter moderates the platform amid the new policy change.

In December, Twitter’s head of trust and safety said the company would bank more on automation to moderate content on the platform following mass layoffs at the company that saw over half of its workforce slashed, including entire human rights and machine learning ethics teams, as well as many outsourced contract workers helping keep the platform secure.

Following the job cuts, Twitter said it would increasingly use automation to “aggressively” restrict abuse-prone hashtags as well as search results in areas such as child exploitation.