Twitter cracking down on abusive tweets by overhauling safety policy.

It’s about time.

Twitter says it will crack down on mean, hateful or menacing tweets that cross the red line from free speech into abuse.

The social media site will overhaul its safety policy and beef up the team responsible for enforcing it and invest “heavily” in ways to detect and limit the reach of abusive content, general counsel Vijaya Gadde said in an column published by The Washington Post.

“We need to do a better job combating abuse without chilling or silencing speech,” Mr Gadde said.

Twitter last month modified its rules to ban ‘revenge porn’ — the tweeting of intimate or revealing pictures or video of people without their permission.

twitter cracking down on abuse
“”We need to do a better job combating abuse,” Twitter admits. Image via Getty.

The San Francisco-based micro-blogging site has also taken steps to curtail the use of anonymously created Twitter accounts to intimidate or silence targeted people.

“We are changing our approach to this problem, in some ways that won’t be readily apparent and in others that will be,” Mr Gadde said.

Related: Kids reading mean tweets shows the destructive power of bullying.

Twitter has tripled the size of the team responsible for protecting users of the service, resulting in a five-fold increase in the speed of response to complaints, the general counsel said.

“We are also overhauling our safety policies to give our teams a better framework from which to protect vulnerable users,” Gadde said.

Mamamia created a video series showcasing the abuse women face daily on social media. Watch part one below. Post continues after video. 

Changes included expanding the definition of banned “abuse” to include indirect threats of violence.

“As some of our users have unfortunately experienced firsthand, certain types of abuse on our platform have gone unchecked because our policies and product have not appropriately recognised the scope and extent of harm inflicted by abusive behaviour,” Mr Gadde said.


“Even when we have recognised that harassment is taking place, our response times have been inexcusably slow and the substance of our responses too meagre.

“This is, to put it mildly, not good enough.”

Related: Annabel Crabb, Imogen Bailey and Sylvia Jeffreys read mean tweets about themselves.

Facebook last month updated its “community standards” guidelines, giving users more clarity on acceptable posts relating to nudity, violence, hate speech and other contentious topics.

Facebook-owned smartphone photo and video sharing service Instagram followed suit on Thursday with a similar overhaul of its rules about what is deemed unacceptable.

“It was time for a refresh; to streamline it and provide a better explanation,” Instagram director of public policy Nicky Jackson Colaco said, citing the global growth of the service since it was acquired by Facebook three years ago in a deal valued at $US1 billion.

“We are setting expectations for what kinds of content we think are acceptable to share on Instagram and what could happen if you violated the policy.”

Instagram boasts more than 300 million active users worldwide, while Facebook lays claim to about 1.38 billion active monthly users.

Instagram guidelines ban nudity, along with threats and hate speech.

Related: Celebrities read the meanest tweets the internet can throw at them.

The new community guidelines state that “sharing graphic images for sadistic pleasure or to glorify violence is never allowed.”

Facebook’s updated community doctrine states that the world’s biggest social network will not allow a presence from groups advocating “terrorist activity, organised criminal activity or promoting hate”.

Mamamia created a video series showcasing the abuse women face daily on social media. Watch part two below. Post continues after video. 

The moves come with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media struggling to define acceptable content and freedom of expression, and with these services increasingly linked to radical extremism and violence.

“What we come back to is what we want our platform to be used for and what we don’t want it to be used for,” Ms Jackson Colaco said, noting that Instagram was created in a “post 9/11 world”.

“Instagram is not a place to support or praise terrorism, organised crime, or hate groups,” the new community guidelines state.

“We remove content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages.”

This article originally appeared on ABC.

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