Twitter revises rules on hate speech targeting religions

It's expanding its policies to forbid all dehumanizing talk about religion.

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AP Photo/Matt Rourke
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Twitter has technically banned hate speech based on religion before, but it should now be easier for the company to clamp down on that behavior. The social site has updated its rules to require the deletion of any tweet that "dehumanizes" others based on their religion, whether or not it targets someone directly. The company won't ban or suspend people who wrote offending tweets before the policy's July 9th effective date, but they will have to delete the posts in question to avoid further trouble.

The company characterized this as a "start" and suggested that broader anti-hate policies could cover other protected groups in the future.

As a spokesperson explained to BuzzFeed News, this is partly about consistency. The company hadn't elaborated on why it left some offensive tweets up while taking others down. Now, there isn't much ambiguity -- people who denigrate a faith's adherents should face some kind of enforcement action.

The revamped policy could have implications for some of Twitter's other decisions. In June, for instance, it said it would label tweets from politicians that violate its rules. The new approach could see those labels applied considerably more often. It's certainly going to raise eyebrows among those who claim Twitter is stifling specific ideologies. However, the company is undoubtedly wagering that these issues will be worthwhile if the rules reduce the toxicity of Twitter and make people feel welcome regardless of their religious practices.

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