Twitter seeks to ban dehumanizing language on its platform in new policy

Twitter has long been battling various forms of hate speech on its platform and the company didn't lack for efforts to implement rules meant to combat such behavior. Earlier this year, it introduced new tools designed to analyze the behavior of accounts to gauge the likelihood that they could pose a threat to a healthy conversation.

As part of its efforts to expand the scope of its policies, Twitter is proposing new rules meant to curb the spread of dehumanizing speech across its platform. The social networking site is now soliciting feedback from the public before enforcing the proposed policies.

Here is Twitter's definition of what constitutes dehumanizing language:

Dehumanization: Language that treats others as less than human. Dehumanization can occur when others are denied of human qualities (animalistic dehumanization) or when others are denied of human nature (mechanistic dehumanization). Examples can include comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic), or reducing groups to their genitalia (mechanistic).

Twitter's Vijaya Gadde and Del Harvey said in a blog post that dehumanizing language may lead to serious violence outside the service, among other adverse effects. Although its current policy on hateful conduct already encompasses some of this content, Twitter wants to expand its rules to ban tweets that may be considered abusive but are not yet covered by its policy. This includes content that dehumanizes individuals based on their affiliation with an identifiable group.

Here's Twitter's definition of an identifiable group:

Identifiable group: Any group of people that can be distinguished by their shared characteristics such as their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, serious disease, occupation, political beliefs, location, or social practices.

The comment period on the proposed policy runs until October 9, after which the feedback will be examined by a cross-functional working group. Twitter is expected to update its rules later this year based on the feedback gathered from the public.

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