Twitter’s new “Violent speech policy” now has an ominous ban against “wishes of harm” on the platform.
Twitter frequently updates its platform policies, particularly since Elon Musk took over. But this new update could be detrimental to free speech. The “Violent speech policy” did not appear in Twitter’s policies until the last month, based on the Wayback Machine, which did not show the update until after a Feb. 1, 2023 archive (the archive doesn’t show it). The new policy does appear to be an updated version of Twitter’s previous Violent Threats Policy and Glorification of violence policy.
Twitter gets more specific, noting that it bans “Violent Threats,” “Wishes of Harm,” “Incitement of Violence,” and “Glorification of Violence.” The platform describes what it characterizes as “Wishes of Harm.” “You may not wish, hope, or express desire for harm. This includes (but is not limited to) hoping for others to die, suffer illnesses, tragic incidents, or experience other physically harmful consequences,” the policy states. One example of speech that could be mistakenly censored under this policy was when CNSNews.com Managing Editor Michael Chapman tweeted that, rather than watch Biden’s State of the Union Address, Americans would prefer to “Eat pieces of broken glass.”
Elon Musk’s Twitter should be wary of being too vague or subjective in its policies, as missteps could seriously damage Twitter’s recent pro-free speech trend.
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