Twitter updates violent speech policy to ban ‘wishes of harm’
The company previously allowed such statements.
Twitter is once again tightening its rules around what users are permitted to say on the platform. The company an updated “violent speech” policy, which contains some notable additions compared with previous versions of the rules.
Interestingly, the new policy prohibits users from expressing “wishes of harm” and similar sentiments. “This includes (but is not limited to) hoping for others to die, suffer illnesses, tragic incidents, or experience other physically harmful consequences,” the rules . That’s a reversal from Twitter’s previous policy, which explicitly said that “statements that express a wish or hope that someone experiences physical harm" were not against the company’s rules.
“Statements that express a wish or hope that someone experiences physical harm, making vague or indirect threats, or threatening actions that are unlikely to cause serious or lasting injury are not actionable under this policy,” Twitter’s previous policy , according to the Wayback Machine.
That change isn't the only addition to the policy. Twitter’s rules now also explicitly protects “infrastructure that is essential to daily, civic, or business activities” from threats of damage. From the rules:
You may not threaten to inflict physical harm on others, which includes (but is not limited to) threatening to kill, torture, sexually assault, or otherwise hurt someone. This also includes threatening to damage civilian homes and shelters, or infrastructure that is essential to daily, civic, or business activities.
These may not seem like particularly eyebrow-raising changes, but they are notable given Elon Musk’s previous statements about how speech should be handled on Twitter. Prior to taking over the company, the Tesla CEO stated that would be to allow all speech that is legal. “I think we would want to err on the side of, if in doubt, let the speech exist,” he said at the time.
It’s also not the first time Twitter’s rules have become more restrictive since Musk’s takeover. The company’s rules around changed following his dustup with the (now suspended) @elonjet account, which shared the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet.
Twitter didn’t explain its rationale for the changes, but noted in a series of tweets that it may suspend accounts breaking the rules or force them to delete the tweets in question. The company no longer has a communications team to respond to requests for comment.