Twitter discusses how to regulate ‘dehumanising’ content

Following a meeting with 18 staff members, Twitter chief Jack Dorsey said he is contemplating systemic solutions to regulate content
Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey on Friday gathered with 18 colleagues, including the safety team, to debate ways to make the social media service safer for its users. The discussion quickly turned to how to rid the site of “dehumanising” speech, even if it did not violate Twitter’s rules, which forbid direct threats of violence and some forms of hate speech but do not prohibit deception or misinformation.
Twitter asked that members of its safety team not be identified, for fear of them becoming targeted by Internet trolls. For about an hour, the group tried to get a handle on what constituted dehumanising speech. At one point, Mr. Dorsey wondered if there was a technological solution. There was no agreement on an answer.
The discussion capped a difficult week for Twitter. For the past five days, the company has been embroiled in internal conversations about how to evolve and explain its policies for what can and cannot be posted on its site. The debates were urgent, fuelled by criticism against Twitter for its lack of action against the posts from the far-right conspiracy site InfoWars and its creator, Alex Jones.
In Friday’s meeting at Twitter, the 18 attendees debated topics including whether tweets that disparaged immigrants could be considered dehumanising. One executive insisted that it was important for Twitter to enable debate about immigration policy. “Immigration is a really valid political debate in many countries around the world and I think we want to make sure we protect the ability of people to say things like, ‘Immigration has affected my community. My local factory employs different people now; I can’t get a job.’” said Nick Pickles, a policy strategist. Any new rules also had to allow victims of rape to openly discuss their experience online, Ms. Harvey said. In an interview afterwards, Mr. Dorsey said he was contemplating broader changes, including “systemic” solutions that aren’t a “one-off.”

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