Twitter’s new abusive behavior policy is under scrutiny

Photo courtesy of Franmarie Metzler; U.S. House Office of Photography, Wikipedia

An account run by Twitter’s spokespeople posted on Friday that "tweets that wish or hope for death, serious bodily harm or fatal disease against anyone are not allowed and will need to be removed." 

This policy was clarified after President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed by various media outlets. Reports stated he was in a critical state when he was brought to the hospital. While some users wished him a speedy recovery, others wished for his death. Almost immediately after the announcement, Twitter began removing such tweets and has been suspending users accordingly. 

“The Squad,” also known as the progressive Democratic congresswomen group consisting of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, immediately expressed what they believe to be a double standard. They called out the social media platform for failing to defend them when they received death threats by users over the last several years.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted back referring to the thousands of hate comments wishing her bodily harm among other things, “So… you mean to tell us you could‘ve done this the whole time?” 

Omar responded with a gif of a woman saying “Excuse me?” Omar faced death wishes targeted at her for her gender and religion. 

Thousands of other Twitter users claimed hypocrisy behind this tweet as well, as the platform has failed to effectively enforce this policy when minority groups receive death threats. In light of recent events, Jewish and African-American communities have faced users calling for their genocide along with other hateful comments.

“We appreciate the open and direct feedback we’re getting, and we will respond to it through further action,” says Twitter.

Twitter’s abusive behavior policy prohibits “wishing or hoping serious harm on a person or group of people.” For many, it is too little too late for the website to heavily enforce consequences as a result of the policy now when it seems they have let their guard down when it comes to marginalized groups.