Twitter has released a new moderation policy explicitly banning dehumanizing speech. If it has been a while since that college linguistics class, you may be wondering what dehumanizing speech exactly is. According to a blog post about the policy change, Twitter explains that it’s “language that treats others as less than human.”
It further explains:
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.
The policy is still a work in progress, and Twitter wants user feedback. So if dehumanization speaks to you (so to speak), take a brief Twitter survey, which will be available until Tuesday, October 9, at 6 a.m. PT. After the survey, Twitter will continue with its regular implementation process and will update the Twitter Rules later this year, presumably incorporating the user feedback.
With the new policy, Twitter may be trying to get ahead of an issue that Facebook has been struggling with in regards to the spread of hate speech. Facebook was recently called out by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight over its policies in Myanmar, where the social network has been used to incite violence against Rohingya Muslims.