In a bid to reduce hate against those infected with coronavirus, Twitter on March 5 expanded its ban on “dehumanising language” to included disease. This comes as the virus has spread to 90 countries, infecting over 98,424 and killing nearly 3,386 people on every continent except Antarctica.
In a post, Twitter’s safety team said that their “Hateful Content” policy which, till now barred “dehumanising speech” targetting religious groups now also included language dehumanising “age, disease and disability.” It added that their primary focus was on addressing the risk of offline harm and research showed that dehumanising language increases that risk.
We continuously examine our rules to help make Twitter safer. Last year we updated our Hateful Conduct policy to address dehumanizing speech, starting with one protected category: religious groups. Now, we’re expanding to three more: age, disease and disability.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) March 5, 2020
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According to the new policy, Twitter will delete all the offending tweets if reported. However, no accounts would be suspended for posting offensive tweets before the new rule was announced. The examples of rule-breaking tweets include “people with the disease are rats that contaminate everything around them.” Another example of an offensive tweet is “People with disability are subhuman and shouldn’t be seen in public."
Twitter, on March 2 advised its employees to work from home, international media reported. This comes just a day after the social media company reportedly announced that it was suspending all non-critical business travel and events. A Twitter blog post published on March 1 read, “Beginning today, we are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able.” It further wrote that their goal is to lower the probability of the spread of COVID-19 for them as well as the world. According to reports, more than 5,000 people work for Twitter.