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Twitter begins enforcing new anti-abuse rules in effort to clean up act

Twitter is to begin enforcing its new anti-abuse rules in its efforts to counter perceptions that it is not doing enough to protect those targeted by abuse and hate speech on the social media site.

The new guidelines, leaked in October and announced in November, cover abuse, hate symbols, sexual advances and violent groups, and are part of Twitter’s two-year work to counteract inappropriate content and behaviour, according to chief executive Jack Dorsey. The social network has been roundly criticised for its handling of abuse.

Twitter’s new rules, that come into force Monday, will take into account offline activity, as well as that on social media, forbidding users from affiliating with organisations that promote violence against civilians. “Hateful images or symbols” are also prohibited in user profiles or biographies.

Breach of any of the new rules could lead to permanent account suspension, Twitter said.

The site recently paused its so-called verification process, which is designed to ensure users are who they claim to be, after it was criticised for verifying the account of Jason Kessler, a prominent alt-right figure in the US who organised a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It has since been removing the verified “blue tick” badges from right-wing figures, including former English Defence League (EDL) leader Tommy Robinson.

Twitter said the verified badge was never meant as a sign of endorsement, and the firm’s boss Jack Dorsey described the process as “broken”.

The company was also recently accused of failing to act on anti-Muslim videos retweeted by US president Donald Trump because the incident made global headlines.

The site was forced to clarify its position after it initially appeared to suggest the videos, retweeted by Trump from the account of Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen, were not removed because they stoked debate.

Dorsey said the site had “mistakenly pointed to the wrong reason” the videos remained online, with the company adding its current media policy had not been violated, but would “continue to re-evaluate and examine our policies as the world around us evolves”.

Twitter has repeatedly come under fire for its uneven enforcement of its policies, with anti-harassment campaigner and US congressional candidate Brianna Wu stating that she could “report the same behaviour one day and it’s acted on. The next day it’s not.”

“Unless you are investing more in personnel and training staff in subjects they may not understand, this isn’t going to solve it,” Wu said in response to the changes.

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