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Twitter unveils ‘hate speech’ shadow ban policy

The company will hide some “hateful” tweets behind a warning screen rather than removing them

Twitter will conceal so-called “hate speech” that violates its rules behind a warning screen that requires a click-through, the platform announced on Monday in a blog post.   

The new policy is supposed to give moderators more choices than simply the binary ‘leave up versus take down’ approach typical to most content moderation, Twitter said. 

In addition to being hidden behind a warning screen reading “Visibility limited: this Tweet may violate Twitter’s rules against Hateful Conduct,” offending tweets will be excluded from search results, trends, and “recommended” screens, with other down-ranking options possible. Advertising will not appear near them.  

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Musk announces new Twitter monetization tool

The new policy is meant to embody the “freedom of speech, not freedom of reach” paradigm that Musk first teased after acquiring the platform in November, when speculation was still swirling regarding whether he would deliver on his promises to liberate Twitter from corporate state censors.  

At the time, he promised that “negative/hate tweets” would be “max deboosted & demonetized,” unlinked to ads, and excluded from all but the most specific search results.  

Bringing deboosting – a key part of the once-secretive practice of shadow-banning – out into the open better aligns this form of moderation with Twitter’s “commitment to transparency,” the platform said in its explanation of the new policy.   

Users will be able to “submit feedback on the label” if they disagree with Twitter’s actions, and while this does not mean anyone will read or respond to the feedback, a proper appeals process is reportedly in the works. 

Twitter revealed that while the labels are currently destined solely for violations of the Hateful Conduct policy, the platform plans to expand them to “other applicable policy areas in the coming months” so as to ensure “enforcement actions” become “more proportional and transparent for everyone on our platform.” 

The platform came under fire earlier this month for turning its “enforcement actions” against users of the blogging platform Substack, which recently rolled out a Twitter-like function called Notes. Tweets containing Substack links were deboosted and replies disabled, while new tweets could not be posted. Several prominent Substack users left the platform, including Matt Taibbi, the journalist hand-selected by Musk to publish the ‘Twitter Files’ and expose the “censorship-industrial complex” the billionaire is supposedly determined to dismantle.  

Musk has since replaced stick with carrot, offering Twitter users the chance to monetize their content and keep all the money they earn the first year.

April 19, 2023 at 02:51AM

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