They say you should always start with a joke, and boy did Twitter have a real knee-slapper at the beginning of its latest blog post: "The Twitter Rules apply to everyone who uses Twitter." Haha. With the joke out of the way, Twitter explains that it has developed a new comprehensive policy on dehumanizing speech. It's also asking for feedback from all of us on the new policy.
Here's the new policy, as well as what Twitter considers to be "dehumanizing."
Twitter’s Dehumanization Policy
You may not dehumanize anyone based on membership in an identifiable group, as this speech can lead to offline harm.
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.
Twitter says it gets many reports from users about content that doesn't technically violate its rules. However, it accepts that the current guidelines aren't sufficient to address all forms of harassment and abuse online. Dehumanizing a group can lead to online abuse and violence in real life. That's why the dehumanization policy exists. As with all Twitter policies, this one could end up getting it in trouble. For example, do Nazis count as a protected group under "political beliefs?" I'm sure someone will test that.
The new rules will go into effect soon, but you can have a say on things until October 9, at 6:00am PST. That's when the comment form on the blog post will stop accepting responses. After that, Twitter will send policy changes through an internal working group to hammer out the details. The dehumanization rules will be added to Twitter's official policies later this year.