Twitter criticized for abuse reminder after Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis

Twitter’s abusive behavior policy is supposed to protect everyone. Following Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, thousands are claiming it doesn’t. 

On Friday, the social media platform attempted to clarify its rules on abusive tweets, stating: “Tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm, or fatal disease against anyone are not allowed and will need to be removed.” The explanation came following a report from Vice on what content the platform would and would not allow surrounding the health of Trump — who, as of Saturday morning, is not yet on a “clear path to recovery.” 

For clarity, the platform has said any tweets conveying hope that Trump dies will be removed, and accounts linked to such tweets may be put on a “read only” mode. (They will not be automatically suspended.) Many say that’s far more than Twitter has managed to do in the past.

“My life has been repeatedly threatened by Nazis/white supremacists/MAGAS and nothing was done,” wrote one user. “I reported it all; most accounts remain. Not just *wishing* me dead, mind you, but threatening to do it. Was all of that not against the rules?”

Numerous users spoke on the perceived hypocrisy of the policy, saying it was not enforced in situations where it clearly should have been. Two specific examples — independent users who were personally abused or threatened and received no protection from Twitter, and instances of other public representatives being abused or threatened (sometimes in ways staggeringly similar to what Trump is facing now) and not receiving protection from Twitter — arose in a pile-up of accusations.

“Someone once DM’d me that I was ‘going to the gas chamber,'” one woman wrote. “When I reported it, Twitter deemed it not a violation of their rules.”

“I think they just made the rule today,” wrote someone else. “[Representative] Ilhan Omar gets death threats for miles everyday. They still haven’t done anything.”

“Is it now?” added another. “The last 7 years of my life would like to have a word with you.” 

The egregious accusations of abuse (many of them specifically involving vulnerable groups, historically targeted by hate speech) were juxtaposed with examples some users say reflect a biased leaning on the platform that benefits Republicans — Trump supporters especially. 

“I got suspended once for two weeks for saying a particular senator still being alive was proof there was no god,” one user said

“Yep, I was suspended for calling someone on Fox News a bimbo and barbie,” another commented. “No, I’m not joking.”

The accusations contribute to a disturbing pattern of unequal censorship on Twitter. The apparent double standard has existed for years, but many say it has never been properly addressed.

Representatives for Twitter did not immediately response to Mashable’s request for comment.

But after the company was caught with its proverbial pants down on the inconsistent enforcement of rules, Twitter Safety posted a whole thread on Saturday acknowledging the issue and pledging to do better, but offering no tangible sense of what that means beyond actions that have already been taken. 

source.

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