Home Technology Twitter announces new policies to ban dehumanizing speech

Twitter announces new policies to ban dehumanizing speech

3 min read

The internet is a wonderful human creation that has made the access to useful information more available to people than ever before. It also represents the worst of humanity as it has become a breeding ground for toxic conversation and hate speech as people hide behind its supposed anonymity and the belief that the internet gives them a platform to bash other people.

And while this type of behaviour is prevalent in pretty much every part of the internet, it’s perhaps worst seen on twitter where people have a tendency to use their 280 character limit to insult others rather than voice solutions to building a better world.

The behaviour of people on the internet has become a massive issue and as much as we can use it as an example for freedom of speech, the truth is that people don’t actually understand what that means. Freedom of speech means that you have a right to your viewpoint, but so do other people. Belittling others because of their viewpoint or life choices is actually not part of that right. A perfect example of which came out in South Africa over the weekend.

It’s also something that Twitter is looking to address, as the company posted yesterday how they are in the process of developing a new policy to address dehumanizing language on twitter saying that “Language that makes someone less than human can have repercussions off the service, including normalizing serious violence”.

The post then goes on to outline what defines dehumanization to them, which they outline as follows:

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).

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.

Now I’m not surprised Twitter has decided to address these issues as Facebook has also started to discuss similar concerns, though at the same time, faced criticism for its moderation rules. It will be interesting to see how Twitter polices this though because while it’s easy to have bots flag potentially harmful words, it can be so easy to take things out of context and make it difficult for certain people to express themselves. Considering so much of the conversation on a platform like Twitter can cover pretty harmful topics, it’s also likely to keep moderators unbelievably busy trying to source through all the posts and by the time offensive tweets are identified, chances are the damage has already been done.

I think it’s a step in the right direction for the company who has long been far too lax with its moderation policies, but could also have an impact on its user base and see people potentially moving away from the service (is that really such a bad thing though?).

However, it’s not a done deal just yet as the company is allowing for public comment to address user concerns – and may clarify some of their policies further based on those. The comment period is open until October 9th, so if you have anything you want to say, be sure to get it in before then. Though, given the vociferousness of the average Twitter user, I’m sure voicing your opinion is something you’re fairly comfortable with.

Last Updated: September 26, 2018


  1. Guz

    September 26, 2018 at 12:25

    Remember what you post on the internet ,twitter/face book/Instagram stays there forever.

    So boy,girls and apache helicopters please be careful of what you post , could come back to haunt you


    • Gavin Mannion

      September 26, 2018 at 12:26

      you spelt apache wrong and now I’m triggered


      • Guz

        September 26, 2018 at 12:27

        Sorry will fix, hopefully not all your missiles went off at the same time XD


  2. Kromas

    September 26, 2018 at 12:27

    What about dehumidifiers? Are they safe?


  3. For the Emperor!

    September 26, 2018 at 12:44

    I am for it, IF, and only IF!!!!, they are consistent with their application of said rules across the political and cultural spectrum, and not just use it to silence those they do not like.

    On a side note, I remember back when I player WoW, that the word “vinniger” was censored in chat due to the N word. So context will be very important as mentioned in the article.


    • Original Heretic

      September 26, 2018 at 13:05

      I will file your “if” in the “wishful thinking” cabinet. Sad, but true.


      • For the Emperor!

        September 26, 2018 at 13:08

        And THAT is the problem 🙁


    • HvR

      September 26, 2018 at 13:08

      Will be interesting to see if Twitter will act against South Africa’s #BlackTwitter aka Poor EFF Working Class via Twitter for iPhoneX


  4. Magoo

    September 26, 2018 at 13:13

    So does “normalizing serious violence” also include gaming context? Examples “Check this triple kill.” Or “I killed 30 people by the end of the day.” (I personally like to use the word ‘frag’.)

    Does saying “My dawgs!” fall under “comparing groups to animals”?

    Are you saying Julius Malema is as good as BANNED?



  5. Magoo

    September 26, 2018 at 13:15

    I strongly believe that 95% of what you see on Twitter is your own fault. People that you follow and subjects you involve yourself in. I follow about 150 people and very rarely come across anything negative. My Twitter feed is positive as fuck.


  6. Admiral Chief

    September 26, 2018 at 13:36

    But what if I don’t identify as human?


  7. Quentin Huggett

    September 27, 2018 at 08:48

    More bans on free speech go time. Dehumanizing speech…. hate speech…pffft… when you say the word “feelings” i feel dehumanized and its hateful to me. This claim is as valid as any other when it comes to these badly defined things called hate speech and twitters new one dehumanizing speech.

    “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.” — Warren Buffett


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