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Twitter Makes Changes to Hate Speech Policies After Paris Terrorist Attacks

ieplexus blog 1 12-31-15One of the problems that social media sites often face is where to draw the line between free speech and hate speech. Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter seek to give everyone a voice regardless of the opinions that they might have. The main problem with this is that some of the speech can affect others poorly and make them feel unwelcome when it comes to speaking out on their own.

Twitter decided recently to make updates to its hate speech policy after the terrorist attacks on Paris and the range of opinions being aired about the Syrian refugees on Twitter. They took the time to put the rules surrounding hate speech into different words. One of the main changes to the writing of the policy states that people on Twitter cannot promote violence against anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or gender.

When Twitter finds accounts and posts that go against their rules they may react in one of several different ways. They can lock the account for a certain amount of time forcing users to wait before they are able to access their Twitter account again. Users may also be asked to delete specific posts that do not follow Twitter rules. In addition to these changes, Twitter is putting more policies in place to prevent users from creating multiple accounts so that they are able to switch to a different account to continue spreading hateful messages.

The goal of these changes is to hopefully stop the spread of hateful messages by both terrorists and other people. Twitter is especially concerned with shutting down terrorist accounts which promote violence toward others openly and seek to recruit new members. The social media site hopes that new policies might help them to reign in terrorist recruiting through Twitter.

Already, changes to the rules regarding hate speech have come under attack by Twitter users. Some say that it is one thing for Twitter to make changes to the rules and another entirely for them to actually follow through with enforcing these changes. There is some worry that they will not have the people they need to really look at each tweet to sort through ones that are hateful. Twitter is addressing some of these issues by extending the size of their team and giving users tools to report abuse more easily.

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