‘Dystopian screenplay’? Twitter considers ‘off-platform behavior’ when banning hate speech
“We look at off-platform behavior as well. At things that aren’t just happening on Twitter, but happening on other platforms or in the real world,” Dorsey told political commentator and TV host Sean Hannity on his radio show on Wednesday.
Some users caught an Orwellian vibe to the policy and suggested it’s unacceptable for a social media platform to poke its nose in what they’re doing when not logged on.
"Jack" disclosed on Hannity today that Twitter takes into account "off-platform behavior" in its moderation decisions. So something you do IRL that has no necessary connection to Twitter can be used as justification for a Twitter ban. I'm writing a dystopian screenplay about this— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) August 9, 2018
Twitter’s chief further explained that, when dealing with hate speech reports, the company’s moderators also review the users’ relevant past activities on Twitter and consider the “cultural context” of the conversation.
“We make sure all of our folks understand the cultural context of something that’s said. Because some cultural contexts enable some speech, and other cultural contexts don’t,” Dorsey stressed. He also admitted that Twitter was “terrible” at communicating its own guidelines to the public, and promised to change that. Some users agree Twitter’s own terms could use some clarity.
It’s like a Newspeak Pentecost over at Twitter. ‘Conversational Health.’ ‘Off-platform behavior.’ It’s like they’re speaking in creepy silicon tongues!— walter kirn (@walterkirn) August 9, 2018
The Twitter Rules should make clearer whether content linked to by tweets are covered by the rules. I assume it is but I’ve read them twice and don’t know for sure. When you say “off-platform” you mean stuff not even linked to right?— Eric Jensen (@ej) August 9, 2018
Ultimately, it’s up to the user to deal with offensive posts appearing in their timeline, Dorsey told Hannity – assuming it gets through Twitter's “off-platform” filtering. “People should decide who they follow and who they want to hear from. That’s a fairly mechanical action – hitting the ‘follow’ button,” he said.
Dorsey made his comments after the company refused to fall in line with Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify who all banned controversial right-wing radio talk show host Alex Jones and his channel Infowars, citing their rules on hate speech and harassment.
In a series of tweets, Dorsey explained that Twitter won’t suspend Jones’ account because he didn’t violate the company’s policies, and highlighted the importance of the media fact-checking and debunking misinformation.
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