Twitter has updated its rules and policies to help protect religious groups on the platform. The updates, under hateful conduct now include banning the “dehumanisation of people on the basis of religion”. In recent years, the platform has come under increasing critique for not tackling hate speech and bigotry. In the rules and policies on Twitter’s website it states,
“We prohibit targeting individuals with content intended to incite fear or spread fearful stereotypes about a protected category, including asserting that members of a protected category are more likely to take part in dangerous or illegal activities, e.g., “all [religious group] are terrorists”.
It also added, “We also prohibit the dehumanization of a group of people based on their religion.”
The new policy means that Tweets like those below, given as examples by Twitter, will be required to be removed when reported:
Muslims on Twitter like 21-year-old Aleesha Khaliq, activist and opinion writer, who has 38.8k followers on Twitter and regularly tweets about British politics, has seen a barrage of hateful tweets, so much so that she decided to document them.
Idk why I’m posting this, but I think it’s important that I do.
I’m a Brit-Pakistani Muslim woman who tweets about British politics.
For over a year now, I’ve been screenshooting abuse, not all, but here it is.
Here’s a thread of what it means to be a WOC in British politics: pic.twitter.com/Ffd87D1HnK
— Aleesha (@a_leesha1) January 11, 2019
Khaliq welcomes the decision and telling us,
“I welcome Twitter’s decision to update their rules against hateful conduct. Comments which attack groups of people on the basis of religion are more harmful than we think. They have the potential to reach, radicalise, and influence millions, and if citizens in the UK can be prosecuted for hate speech against Muslims, and other groups, then this new rule is long overdue and absolutely necessary to protect people from religious minority groups. Social media sites should take responsibility for harmful content, and I’m glad that Twitter is working towards creating a safer environment.”
Personalities like Nadiya Hussain, Great British Bake Off winner, also regularly sees hateful comments to which she makes a point to respond, often with sarcasm.
Perhaps we should looks closer to home and worry about the joke that is our government at the moment. Religion is a beautiful thing, harmful people with backward thoughts are the ones that destroy humanity. https://t.co/2zPBkHSuIY
— Nadiya Jamir Hussain (@BegumNadiya) January 22, 2018
I don’t know. I don’t intend on leaving Islam anytime soon. https://t.co/nWHvr6Fzpo
— Nadiya Jamir Hussain (@BegumNadiya) February 19, 2018
The new policy updates came after Twitter put out a survey last year asking for feedback to “ensure we consider global perspectives and how this policy may impact different communities and cultures”. The survey saw more than 8,000 responses from people located in more than 30 countries.
Twitter has also defined dehumanization as,
“Dehumanization: Language that treats others as less than human. Dehumanization can occur when others are denied of human qualities (animalistic dehumanization) or when others are denied of their human nature (mechanistic dehumanization). Examples can include comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic), or reducing groups to a tool for some other purpose (mechanistic).”
Their blog post also gives examples of dehumanization based on gender and religion:
Do you think the new policy update will help protect religious communities?