Twitter shares its timeline for rule updates in the wake of boycott

Why it matters to you

Twitter is tightening up restrictions on abusive language and content — here’s what’s changing and when.

After #WomenBoycottTwitter, the social media platform is launching a widespread effort to stiffen up its rules and the enforcement process for those rules. On Thursday, October 19, Twitter shared a timeline for when users can expect those changes to occur, after a leaked email earlier this week detailed some of those plans.

“This won’t be a quick or easy fix, but we’re committed to getting it right,” Twitter said in a statement. “Far too often in the past we’ve said we’d do better and promised transparency but have fallen short in our efforts. Starting today, you can expect regular, real-time updates about our progress. Sometimes, this may be insight into the difficult questions we’re asking ourselves, even before we have the answers. This is the first time we’ve shared this level of visibility into our work, and we hope it helps build trust along the way.”

The changes start with a wider policy on nonconsensual nudity. Twitter says it will err on the side of protecting potential victims with the new guidelines, which will launch on October 27 along with an updated process for appealing a suspended account.

In November, Twitter will start including an explanation when an account is locked for violating rules, as well as notifying users via email as well. This change likely stems directly from the recent boycott. The #WomenBoycottTwitter was sparked after actress Rose McGowan’s account was suspended after a series of tweets on harassment in the entertainment industry. Twitter, at first, did not comment on the reason, but later said that the suspension actually occurred because the actress tweeted a private phone number. By that time, however, the #WomenBoycottTwitter hashtag had already caught on.

A string of new Twitter rules will launch on November 3, the company says. The updates will suspend accounts that “use violence to advance their cause.” Hate symbols and hate imagery will also be banned from images on the platform, including inside avatars and profile pictures. The guidelines will later expand to ban usernames that include abusive terms. Twitter will also explicitly label unwanted sexual advances as policy violations, though the company says they are already taking action against that type of content. Rule updates will also be more specific about what Twitter considers “sensitive media” as well as clarification on spam and similar behaviors.

Improving technology to detect tweets that violate the rules is also on the list of updates, along with an updated review process.

The updates continue though December and January, with additional rules prohibiting content that glorifies violence. The platform will continue to work against unwanted sexual advances by adding “past relationship interaction signals” to the review process. Updates to the process of reporting a violating Tweet will also be part of the updates.

While #WomenBoycottTwitter brought online harassment back into the spotlight, users have complained against the platform’s lax harassment stance on numerous occasions, just last year rolling out a muted words filter and expanded algorithums after several high-profile users quit tweeting.

Twitter says it will keep users up-to-date on the progress by sharing through @TwitterSaftey.

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