Twitter is introducing new policies to combat harassment and unwanted sexual advances on the social media site after a recent decision to disable the account of a famous actress sparked an uproar.
The company said it will immediately and permanently suspend any account that clearly harasses someone or posts nude images without the consent of the subject. The new policy also takes a tougher stance on unwanted sexual advances on the service by improving ways for bystanders to report inappropriate behaviour.
“A more aggressive policy and enforcement approach will result in the removal of more content from our service,” Twitter said on Tuesday in a statement. “We have to do a better job explaining our policies and setting expectations for acceptable behaviour on our service.”
Twitter came under fire last week for temporarily disabling the account of actress and director Rose McGowan. She had used the social media platform to name and shame alleged offenders in the entertainment industry following sexual assault allegations directed toward Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Twitter at the time said her account was temporarily locked for posting a private phone number.
Women boycotted the site for a day to protest, and some complained that Twitter’s swift action in suspending McGowan’s account contrasted with the company’s usual ambivalence in policing users who troll women with sexual and violent content. Some tweeted that silencing a sexual assault victim discourages other women from reporting their experiences.
Historically, the San Francisco-based company has erred on the side of free speech and unfiltered conversation. That attitude has started to shift as more incidences of abuse on the site turned some people away. In 2016, the company formed a Trust and Safety Council and made significant product updates to help curb abuse.
Twitter’s policies are being scrutinised more than ever because US President Donald Trump is such a heavy user. The company has not barred the president from tweeting, despite critics who say some of his tweets violate Twitter’s rules.
Responding to queries on a controversial tweet sent on 24 September by Trump about North Korea, Twitter said the company would “hold all accounts to the same rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether tweets violate our rules”. — Reported by Selina Wang, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP