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Twitter announces stricter policy on abusive, violent accounts

By Ray Downs
Twitter announces stricter policy on abusive, violent accounts
Twitter announced stricter guidelines on accounts that promote abusive or violent content Monday. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Twitter announced Monday it will increase its vigilance against abusive and threatening users by suspending or banning them from the site.

The announcement comes after the social media platform faced months of criticism for not censoring certain people and groups, including white nationalists.

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"We believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up," Twitter said in its new rules guidelines. "In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates or uses fear to silence another user's voice."

Twitter said it will look at the context of the tweets when determining whether a user will be disciplined. Some of the factors it will look at include whether the behavior targets an individual or group, the target of the abuse filed a report, and if the behavior is "newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest."

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Those who tweet threats of violence or wishes for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people will be disciplined, including those who promote terrorism or affiliate with organizations that promote violence on or off the platform.

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Twitter began enforcing its new policies Monday by banning Britain First, a far right, anti-Islam British political party that ran unsuccessfully in local elections in 2014 and has since been deregistered by Britain's Electoral Commission.

Britain First used Twitter to share anti-Islam videos and gained some notoriety in the United States last month when President Donald Trump retweeted several of the group's videos.

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Social media sites have tightened restrictions on content shared via its platforms in recent months. On Monday, Facebook also announced it would be stricter about "spammy posts," such as those that ask for likes, shares or comments.

"This tactic, known as 'engagement bait,' seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach," Facebook said in a blog post. "So, starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait."

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