Twitter says it will remove hate speech related to age, disease and disability from its platform

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Twitter has updated its policy when it comes to hate speech, with the platform now adding age, disease and disability to the list of content it will be looking at.

This follows a move last year to remove any religion-related hate speech from the platform, following a number of mass shootings in which the shooter’s religious beliefs, as well as their targets, came to the fore.

“In July 2019, we expanded our rules against hateful conduct  to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion. Today, we are further expanding this rule to include language that dehumanizes on the basis of age, disability or disease,” Twitter explained in its blog post.

The microblogging site also provided some examples of tweets (pasted below) which would fall under this new policy, noting that they would be removed once they’re flagged and reviewed.

The firm also notes that any tweets sent out prior to today and reported, would be deleted, but would not result in an account being suspended, as the rule did not exist at the time that the message was first sent.

Twitter also acknowledged the fact that it is still learning during this ongoing process, and that such a policy will take time to refine. As such it should be interesting to see how the company copes with erroneous reports of hate speech, especially as these kinds of messages can be open to interpretation.

We have, for example, seen plenty of memes pop up online following the recent confirmation of South Africa’s first coronavirus (COVID-19) case. Could these for example be viewed as hate speech related to disease?

“We are continuing to learn as we expand to additional categories. We’ve seen that by doing more in-depth training and an extended testing period to determine what we need to further clarify and define, our team is more prepared to handle cultural nuances and ensure we take action more consistently,” Twitter notes.

“We agree that these are difficult areas to get right, so we want to be thoughtful and effective as we expand this rule,” the social media platform concludes.

With the enforcement of this policy update now taking effect, we’ll soon see what the vocal Twitter community’s opinion on this change is.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.