Once more, Twitter is implementing harsher rules about what users are permitted to discuss on the network. An improved “violent speech” guideline that the firm introduced has several noticeable improvements over earlier iterations of the restrictions.
Curiously, the new policy prevents users from expressing “wishes of harm” and related emotions. “This includes (but is not limited to) yearning for others to die, suffer illnesses, terrible occurrences, or endure other physically damaging consequences,” the regulations declare. That represents a change from Twitter’s prior policy, which stated unequivocally that “statements that convey a wish or hope that someone receives physical harm” were not prohibited by the company’s policies.
Twitter’s former policy, according to the Wayback Machine, said that “threats that convey a wish or hope that someone experiences bodily harm, making vague or indirect threats, or threatening activities that are unlikely to cause serious or lasting trauma are not illegal under such a policy.”
The policy has been expanded in addition to this modification. The terms of service of Twitter now specifically prohibit threats of harm to “infrastructure that is important to everyday, civic, or corporate activity.” Per the regulations:
You may not threatening to do anything that will cause someone else physical damage, such as threatening to torture, kill, or sexually attack someone. This also includes threatening to destroy civilian housing and shelters or infrastructure necessary for day-to-day, societal, or commercial operations.
These adjustments might not seem particularly noteworthy, but they are significant in light of Elon Musk’s earlier opinions on how speech on Twitter should be handled. Before trying to take over the company, the Tesla CEO made a statement supporting the freedom of all permissible speech. When in doubt, he remarked, “I think we are inclined to be cautious of, let the speech exist.”
Also, it’s not the first time since Musk took control of Twitter that its policies have tightened. Following his altercation with the (now suspended) @elonjet account, which disclosed the whereabouts of Musk’s private jet, the company’s policies regarding doxxing were altered.
The changes were not explained by Twitter, although it did mention in a few tweets that it could suspend accounts for breaking the rules or ask users to delete the offending messages. The company’s communications department is no longer available to reply to inquiries for comment.