Twitter is cracking down on spam, but what about hate speech?
Twitter is an unquestionably powerful social media marketing platform, but it’s also known for its ability to bring out the ugly side of humanity. The latest policy changes by the company are trying to change that.
Saying goodbye to spam bots
In an attempt to minimize spam, Twitter is punishing users who “attempt to artificially amplify or inflate the prominence of certain Tweets” by automatically posting (or liking, or retweeting) those tweets on multiple accounts. While this move could help prevent malicious content from gaining traction online, it also affects legitimate organizations trying to reach their followers – and it will have a major impact on the functionality of social media management apps like TweetDeck, dlvr.it and SEMRUSH. Needless to say, not everyone is happy about this change.
From a marketing perspective, it appears that evergreen content (posts that can be re-shared over a long span of time without becoming dated) is also being squashed by the platform. Now, posting the same tweet more than once on your account could land you in hot water (aka a suspension). Pay attention to your hashtag game too – posting tweets with the same hashtags through multiple accounts might also get you in trouble.
Are these changes potentially inconvenient? For sure. Could they lead to a better overall Twitter experience? Only time will tell.
But what about the haters?
While Twitter focuses on reducing spam, people are wondering when the social platform will take hate speech just as seriously. There’s an endless amount of compelling, insightful and entertaining content on Twitter, but it’s no secret that there’s a lot of hateful junk in equal measure. What practices have been put in place to prevent that junk from reaching your timeline?
Though Twitter’s hateful conduct policy states that “you may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease,” Twitter has continued to come under fire for their inconsistent execution of this policy.
For example, in a December 2017 piece for The Huffington Post, Roanna Carleton-Taylor reported that after receiving a threatening, policy-violating tweet, Twitter refused to remove the offending tweet until Carleton-Taylor provided her driver’s license. After all that, they still didn’t suspend the account even though many similar tweets were littered throughout its timeline.
This situation isn’t a one-off, either.
While the lines between free speech and hate speech can be blurry, Twitter is trying to take a stand. As of December 18, 2017, it began suspending the accounts of those affiliated with violent hate groups and those who post hate symbols. However, they still have a long way to go. Twitter’s most noticeable moves have been to unverify several far-right accounts.
Do actions speak louder than words?
While there’s certainly been backlash from people who believe Twitter’s new policies are censoring users, many see these changes as long overdue. With these policy changes, Twitter recognizes it has a role to play in the current social and political climate. However, the lenient penalties for violating these policies seem to indicate they still may be lost in the woods when dealing with thorny issues like free speech. Their true test will be how and when they enforce these policies.
Will the consequences be more severe for accounts who repost the same tweet than for those who share propaganda or hate speech? Will their actions demonstrate that evergreen content is more offensive to Twitter than death threats?
While Twitter’s new anti-spam policies may help downplay some of the annoying and ugly sides of the social media platform, it’s yet to be seen whether these policies are enough to make a lasting impact.