ADL Commends Twitter for Recognizing Significant Need to Respond to Hateful Content

New York, NY, April 22, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed Twitter’s announcement of “policy and product updates aimed at combating abuse” as an important step in the realm of combatting hate on social media.

The changes include expanding Twitter policy on violent threats to include not only “direct, specific threats” but also “threats of violence against others or promoting violence against others,” which could also lead to more concerted action against terrorist groups using their platform. Other welcome changes involve locking the Twitter accounts of abusers for a specific period of time, and the testing of a technological feature to help “identify suspected abusive tweets and limit their reach.”

“We are pleased that Twitter has recognized the need to respond to hateful content more effectively than they have in the past,” said Christopher Wolf, ADL Civil Rights Chair. “The changes are an important step in the right direction, consistent with our statement on Best Practices that Twitter and the other major Internet companies supported last fall.  We are glad that they are thinking creatively about how to respond to patterns of abuse that inhibit free expression and tarnish the service.  Finding the appropriate balance between protecting free speech and rejecting harassment can be challenging, but this recalibration by Twitter is important and timely.”

ADL said that as Twitter begins to implement the new policies, they will have to confront a number of important questions they have not yet addressed.

“These include how they will address tweets that provide links to offensive content on other platforms, what sanctions they will impose on users who violate the policies, how they will deal with repeat offenders, and to what degree they still need to rely primarily on users to flag abuse for them,” added Deborah M. Lauter, ADL Civil Rights Director. “We believe that they have been giving these and other related questions serious consideration, and how they respond may blaze an important new trail for other social media platforms as well.”

In September 2014, the League introduced its “Best Practices for Challenging Cyberhate,” an initiative that establishes guideposts for the industry to help prevent the spread of online hate speech.

In an attempt to help users better navigate the various mechanisms available for reporting online hate speech, ADL created the Cyber-Safety Action Guide, a platform where consumers can learn how to report bigoted or hateful speech to the major Internet and social media companies.

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