It’s not exactly a secret that Twitter has hate speech and harassment problems, though the lengths CEO Jack Dorsey has gone to dismiss the abusive antics and incendiary rhetoric that fester on the popular social media platform have drawn sharp critique.
In April, he defended his decision not to remove an Islamaphobic tweet from Donald Trump, despite the fact that Rep. Ilhan Omar received a deluge of death threats in its aftermath. And if you think Dorsey’s penchant for turning a blind eye is an aberration, we here at The Root even provided a step-by-step tutorial on how to get away with this type of shit yourself.
According to Buzzfeed News, a new day is upon us, as Twitter—and presumably, Dorsey—have seen the light. On Tuesday, the social media platform announced that tweets dehumanizing religious groups will be removed.
We create our rules to keep people safe on Twitter, and they continuously evolve to reflect the realities of the world we operate within. Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk. As a result, after months of conversations and feedback from the public, external experts and our own teams, we’re expanding our rules against hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion.
Will this update fare any better than Twitter’s previous efforts to thwart hate speech? And had this policy been put in place prior to Trump making Omar’s life a living hell, would his tweet have been removed? Does this policy make Twitter safer for marginalized groups?
One person who isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid is Color of Change president Rashad Robinson, who provided the following statement to The Root:
“Color Of Change ultimately measures success by how safe Twitter’s platform is for Black Americans, and this policy change, while a step in the right direction, still leaves us exposed to harm from white nationalism and white supremacy, election misinformation, and online harassment.
Twitter’s update is too simplistic for the complicated world we live in, and fails to address the nuanced intersections of its users’ identities. Across this country and around the world, people who sign on to Twitter for news, entertainment, and building connections are dehumanized – not just for their religious identity, but the color of their skin, their nationality, their gender, their sexual orientation, and in many instances, a combination of these experiences.
Twitter’s failure to ban all forms of dehumanization immediately casts doubt on the company’s commitment to fully stopping hate on the platform. It’s no secret that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and other Silicon Valley leaders have been reluctant to stamp out discrimination and misinformation for fear of a conservative backlash. Until protecting civil rights becomes an operational priority for Twitter’s leadership–and across the big tech industry–Color Of Change’s 1.5 million members will continue to call for reform, accountability and intervention from federal regulators to ensure our safety.”
Try again, Jack.