Twitter announced a new policy aimed at providing more transparency around tweets that violate its hate speech policy and are subject to enforcement action. This policy includes “visibility filtering,” where tweets that violate Twitter’s policies are limited in reach and excluded from search results, trends, recommended notifications, timelines, and more. However, in the past, the wider public would not necessarily know if a tweet had been moderated in this way. To address this, Twitter plans to add visible labels on tweets that have been identified as potentially violating its policies and have impacted their visibility.
The new policy is designed to be more proportional and transparent for everyone on the platform, as stated in a blog post authored by “Twitter Safety.” The post also emphasized Twitter’s enforcement philosophy of “Freedom of Speech, not Freedom of Reach.” This means that users whose tweets are labeled will not be shadowbanned or removed from the network, and the policy actions will only occur at the tweet level, not affecting the user’s account as a whole.
However, Twitter also noted that not all tweets that have had their visibility reduced will be labeled, and the labeling feature will initially be rolled out only for tweets that violate its Hateful Conduct policy. The company also stated that it plans to expand the feature to other policy areas in the coming months. Users whose tweets are labeled will have the option to submit feedback if they believe their tweet was incorrectly flagged, but Twitter does not guarantee a response or restoration of the tweet’s reach.
The introduction of this new policy follows Twitter’s earlier decisions, under the leadership of its new owner, Elon Musk, to allow controversial figures, including former President Donald Trump and neo-Nazis, to rejoin the network. Musk has been a proponent of free speech and has criticized Twitter’s moderation policies in the past. However, Twitter’s need to balance free speech with maintaining a functioning business, particularly with regards to advertiser trust, may be driving this new policy.
Since Musk’s acquisition, Twitter has seen major brands, including Mars, AT&T, VW, and Stellantis, leaving the platform, citing concerns over brand safety. Labeling tweets that have been de-ranked for hate speech violations may be an attempt to reassure advertisers that their ads are not running alongside such content. However, Twitter has also been facing criticism for its constantly changing policies and features, including the introduction of a paid version called Twitter Blue and recent changes to how news outlets are labeled, leading to some reputable newsrooms leaving the platform entirely.
The implementation of this new policy may also involve automation, as Twitter no longer replies to press inquiries and relies on blog posts and tweets for official communication. However, automation may also lead to mistakes, as acknowledged by Twitter in a Twitter thread about the changes. The company has mentioned that it plans to allow authors to appeal its decision at some point in the future, but no specific timeline has been provided.