Twitter is updating its policies on unsafe links to patch one of its most abused loopholes. Starting Thursday, July 30th, the social network will censor tweets that link to hate speech and violence.
In a tweet, Twitter added that accounts that frequently tweet links featuring hateful conduct may also be potentially suspended. The social network tends to take action on unsafe links in one of the two ways: it will either completely ban a particular link so that it can’t be tweeted at all or display a warning to anyone who clicks the link.
Twitter will block links to “content that promotes violence against, threatens or harasses other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease,” says the updated policy.
Since Twitter’s policies on links didn’t cover these categories in the past, malicious users were able to circumvent the social network’s rules by tweeting links instead of sharing hate speech or violent content directly.
“Our goal is to block links in a way that’s consistent with how we remove Tweets that violate our rules. We’ll start taking action under these updated guidelines on Thursday, July 30,” the social network’s official support handle wrote in a tweet.
Apart from hate speech, Twitter doesn’t allow sharing links that redirect to malware, phishing scams, websites that sell “buy, sell, or facilitate transactions in illegal goods or services”, “media, or other content created by terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups”, and more.
We’ve reached out to Twitter for more information on why it so long to add this seemingly obvious policy section and we’ll update the story when we hear back.
Over the past few months, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spur misinformation and conspiracy theories, Twitter has actively employed its link policies to censor misleading tweets. In May, for instance, it marked a handful of URLs of the conspiracy movie, “plandemic” as unsafe and displayed a precautionary warning to anyone who tried to visit them.