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Twitter toughens abuse rules — and now has to enforce them

By The Associated Press

This article was published October 26, 2017 at 11:33 a.m.


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NEW YORK — Twitter is enacting new policies around hate, abuse and advertisements, but having rules is only half the battle.

The bigger problem is enforcement, and the company has had some high-profile bungles recently. That includes its much-criticized suspension of actress Rose McGowan while she was speaking out against Harvey Weinstein, and the company's ban, later reversed, of an ad from a Republican Senate candidate that mentioned the "the sale of baby body parts."

Such twists and turns suggest that Twitter doesn't always communicate the intent of its rules to the people enforcing them. In McGowan's case, her suspension resulted from a straightforward application of Twitter privacy rules to a tweet that broadcast a private phone number. But the moderators who enforced the rules didn't seem to take into account McGowan's central role in speaking out against allegations of abuse by Harvey Weinstein. A widespread outcry followed, and the company reinstated her.

Twitter has users "coming from lots of different parts of the world with different kinds of context," said Emma Llanso, director of the Center for Democracy & Technology's Free Expression Project. "And it's probably impossible to have just one set of rules that works all the time. There will definitely be mistakes."

The company said it will "be clearer about these policies and decisions in the future."

To make things more clear, Twitter will give users suspected of abuse more information after they appeal a suspension verdict. Appeals themselves aren't new, but now the company says it will provide "detailed descriptions" of rule violations as part of the process.

The company said last week that it will also email users when they are suspected of account violations, and next month will post details about the different factors it weighs when enforcing its rules.

Read Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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