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Twitter Launches New Crackdown on Sexual Harassment, Hate Content After Boycott

Twitter has released details of its latest efforts to beef up user safety on the platform with plans to enact new rules banning specific forms of sexual harassment and hate speech – a move accelerated by the backlash last week over the company’s temporary suspension of Rose McGowan.

CEO Jack Dorsey fired off a tweet-storm last Friday vowing to push Twitter to do more to curb abuse and harassment of users. That came after Twitter users including Chrissy Teigen, Elizabeth Banks, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Platt joined the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement in solidarity with McGowan.

Twitter said it suspended the account of the actress — who has actively tweeted about Harvey Weinstein and claimed he sexually assaulted her — because McGowan violated its terms of service by posting a private phone number. However, many viewed Twitter’s action as being tone-deaf to victims of sexual predators.

Twitter has been actively working to battle abuse on the platform the last two years, according to Dorsey, and the company has released a series of updates aimed at the problem. But he admitted it hasn’t been enough. “Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re *still* not doing enough,” the CEO tweeted on Oct. 13. “We decided to take a more aggressive stance in our rules and how we enforce them.”

Twitter’s new rules, set to go into effect over the next few weeks cover five areas: “non-consensual nudity”; unwanted sexual advances; hate symbols and imagery; violent groups; and tweets that “glorify violence.”

News of the policy changes was first reported by Wired, which published an email from Twitter’s head of safety policy to the company’s outside advisory Trust and Safety Council outlining the plans.

Regarding non-consensual nudity posted on Twitter, the company said it will now “immediately and permanently” suspend any account flagged as posting such material or if a user makes it clear they are intentionally posting said content to harass their target. Twitter also is broadening the definition of “non-consensual nudity” to include content like “upskirt” photos, “creep shots,” and hidden-camera content.

Twitter generally permits pornographic content but doesn’t allow it to be targeted to users who don’t want to see it. The company said it will improve “bystander reporting” and will use past interaction signals (such as block and mute) to help determine whether sexual content may be unwanted and take appropriate action.

As far as curbing the use hate symbols and imagery and blocking violent groups, Twitter said it is still defining the scope of what will be covered by those policies.

“At a high level, hateful imagery, hate symbols, etc will now be considered sensitive media (similar to how we handle and enforce adult content and graphic violence),” the company said in the email. On hate groups, Twitter “will take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause.”

Twitter also will move to delete tweets that “glorify violence,” in addition to banning direct violent threats. Examples of content that would violate this policy, according to Twitter, would include “Praise be to for shooting up. He’s a hero!” or “Murdering makes sense. That way they won’t be a drain on social services.”

In addition to the new policies, Twitter said it will in the coming weeks make additional changes, including updating the Twitter media policy to explain what is considered adult content, graphic violence, and hate symbols, as well as launching a standalone help page to explain the enforcement of the new rules.

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