Twitter has come up with a new policy that bans dehumanizing speech. In a blog post on Tuesday, Twitter executives Del Harvey and Vijaya Gadde explained that "language that makes someone less than human can have repercussions off the service, including normalizing serious violence."
Weeding out abusive language is Twitter's way of addressing the problem that many abusive tweets don't fall under its existing policy of banning "hateful conduct." The policy bans users from directly attacking or threatening others based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, and more, but it doesn't include tweets that dehumanize users in other ways.
Twitter defines dehumanization as:
"Language that treats others as less than human. Dehumanization can occur when others are denied of human qualities (animalistic dehumanization) or when others are denied of human nature (mechanistic dehumanization). Examples can include comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic), or reducing groups to their genitalia (mechanistic)."
Here's the new policy:
"You may not dehumanize anyone based on membership in an identifiable group, as this speech can lead to offline harm."
Before the new rules takes effect, Twitter is requesting user feedback in an open comment period, which will be open until October 9th.