Twitter to moderate tweets that express religious hate

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The days when Twitter referred to itself as the "the free speech wing of the free speech party" are long gone. The Twitter Safety team on Tuesday expanded its moderation policies around hateful conduct to include language that dehumanizes others on the basis of religion.

The new rules, which come into effect Tuesday would apply to tweets published earlier as well, which will be deleted if reported. However, Twitter will not enforce any account suspensions because they were tweeted before the rule was announced.

Twitter says the new rules are the result of discussions and feedback from the public, external experts and internal teams, which had been highlighted in September 2018. Twitter says it received more than than 8,000 responses from people located in more than 30 countries, asking for clearer examples of violations and explanations and consistent enforcement. The new rules are illustrated with specific examples of tweets which will be removed from the platform going forward – calling a religious group "rats", "viruses", "filthy animals", or "maggots" will get removed once reported. 

"We create our rules to keep people safe on Twitter, and they continuously evolve to reflect the realities of the world we operate within," reads a blog post written by Twitter's safety team. "Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk."

Twitter has had extensive rules against hateful conduct prior, though it has struggled to moderate hate groups and trolls at scale. The safety team at Twitter had recently announced that it would allow certain tweets made by elected government officials and those running for public office to stay up as it may be in the public's interest for the tweet to be available.