Twitter announced this today a new policy which it claims will provide greater transparency against which hateful tweets on its platform are subject to enforcement action. When tweets violate Twitter’s policies, the company can usually limit the reach of those tweets — or something it calls “visibility filtering.” In these scenarios, the tweets remain online, but become less discoverable excluded from areas like search results, trends, recommended alerts, timelines for you and next, and more.
If users want to see the tweet, they’ll have to go directly to the author’s profile instead.
The tweet may also be downgraded in replies when such enforcement occurs and ads are not displayed against the content, Twitter’s guidelines stands.
Historically, the general public would not necessarily know if a tweet was moderated in this way. Now, Twitter says that will change.
The company plans to “soon” add visible labels to tweets that have been identified as potentially violating the policy, which has impacted their visibility. It didn’t say when exactly the system would be fully rolled out across its network.
In addition, not all tweets whose visibility has been reduced will be tagged, the company noted.
It only starts with tweets that violate her Hateful Behavior Policy and says it will expand the feature to other policy areas in the “coming months.”
“This change is intended to result in enforcement actions that are more proportionate and transparent to everyone on our platform,” said a blog post written by “Twitter Safety.” The post also praised Twitter’s enforcement philosophy, calling it “Freedom of Speech, Not Freedom of Reach.”
If a tweet is tagged, the user itself will not be shadowed or removed from the network – the company notes that the policy actions will only occur at the tweet level and will not affect a user’s account.
Twitter also explains that users whose tweets have been tagged can provide feedback if they believe their tweet has been flagged in error, but says they may not get a response to that feedback, nor guarantee that the tweet’s reach will be restored.
This is likely due to the massive cuts Twitter has made to its Trust & Safety teams and the company as a whole. And it may rely heavily on automation to make its labeling decisions, though it’s unclear to what extent this system will be automated. (Twitter no longer answers press inquiries, so blog posts and tweets from the company or its new owner, Elon Musk, are the only official word on this sort of thing). Of course, automation could mean that Twitter is getting things wrong – something it admits in a Twitter thread about the changes. Here, the company also says it plans to allow authors to appeal their decision at some point “in the future.”
Again, there was no hard deadline or time frame for parking.
The launch of the new policy follows previous decisions by Twitter under Musk to allow controversial figures, including Trump and neo-Nazis, back into the network. In one incident, Musk brought the artist formerly known as Kanye West back to Twitter, who then tweeted a swastika and was suspended again.
The new policy announced today may reflect Twitter’s attempt to balance two opposing forces. On the one hand, Musk is a free-speech advocate who railed against Twitter’s reportedly less-than-transparent moderation policies in the years before he took control of the company. He even went so far as to publicly share internal documents and notices known as the Twitter files in an attempt to expose how Twitter’s moderation decisions had been made in the past.
The results were not as stunning as he had hoped. What was largely found was that a company had to make complex and nuanced decisions, often in real time, around cross-border content and high-profile figures.
In fact, visibility filtering was one of the topics the Twitter Files had covered.
Musk wanted to show that Twitter was more likely to be politically biased when filtering tweets in the past, but the report didn’t include information about how many accounts or tweets were de-amplified or the politics of those affected, so no conclusions could be drawn. created.
But Musk’s personal beliefs run counter to the need to maintain a functioning company. Therefore, Twitter, on the other hand, could be trying to make amends with advertisers.
Advertisers have been fleeing the network since the Musk acquisition. Major brands, including Mars, AT&T, VW and Stellantis, have all disappeared – and all brand safety measures have failed to restore confidence. The company may be hoping that labeling tweets that have been removed from the rankings will help marketers feel more comfortable that their ads won’t appear right next to hate speech. But advertisers have plenty of other reasons to be concerned about Twitter.
Since Musk’s acquisition, the network has been chaotic, with constantly changing policies and features, including a now-paid version of Twitter Blue, and changes in the way news outlets are labeled in recent days, leading to generally reliable news outlets like PBS , NPR, CBC and others to leave the platform entirely.