Twitter unveils new policy on hateful conduct following dialogue with groups including CST

15 Nov 2016 by CST

Twitter has today released a new update, in a bid to reduce hateful conduct, including antisemitism, from its platform. CST was briefed ahead of the launch, as we have been a trusted partner of Twitter since the beginning of 2015, assisting Twitter in dealing with instances of antisemitic abuse. The new update comes followingcriticism that the platform has allowed hate speech to flourish, but Twitter has stressed that it wants to enable users to feel safe, to have access to support and protection and for users to be able to control what they see. 

Two key areas of policy have changed, relating to reporting of hate content; and Twitter’s enforcement and support teams. Images are increasingly being used to target Jewish users, and several reports which CST has made to Twitter in the past about these images, such as comparing Jewish users to lampshades, soap or imposing photographs of the user onto ovens, have unfortunately been considered acceptable and have not been removed. Often this is due to a lack of understanding of the context; namely in this case evocations of the Holocaust. However, Twitter has now trained their safety teams to understand the context of images and wider hate speech, such as those mentioned, and reports CST made to Twitter were crucial in this educational process. This policy update will affectall protected characteristicsin British law,including but not limited to: age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation

Additionally, a new category will be added to the reporting form for ‘hateful conduct’. This will ensure that all reports are handled by Twitter’s internal monitoring and support teams correctly, rather than simply earmarking the antisemitism as abusive behaviour or threats of harassment. Furthermore, a new keyword mute feature has been introduced so users will be able to choose which tweets they read. Consequently, users can filter out abusive Tweets more efficiently.

CST is one of a number of global groups that assist Twitter on an ongoing basis, to ensure that various aspects of hate speech are understood and to provide feedback on current aspects of Twitter’s reporting and safety system. CST has continually pointed out to Twitter when we have felt that their processes were not removing hateful content efficiently and were letting down Jewish users, and this has played a role inTwitter’s update launched today. CST will continue to monitor the effectiveness of this new update in helping to reduce antisemitism online. 

CST’s Chief Executive David S Delew responded to Twitter’s update:

“CST is grateful that Twitter is trying to address our deep concerns about antisemitism and other hateful content. We have given a great deal of feedback concerning what has, and has not, worked with previous methods for reporting and removing hatred.

We hope that these new measures can be positively implemented, that they help reduce hatred on Twitter and make it easier for users to report hateful content. Crucially, they should help get hateful content more quickly removed. CST will continue our constructive dialogue with Twitter in order to monitor this important update and improve it where necessary. We also call upon all social media companies to seek constant improvement in this important area of their moral and legal responsibilities.”