Twitter (TWTR) announced this week that it is expanding rules designed to curb "hateful conduct" on its social media platform. In a blog post Thursday, the company said that it will no longer tolerate Tweets that denigrate other users based on age, disability, or disease. This expands rules the company announced in mid-2019 that banned Tweets using dehumanizing speech regarding a user's religious beliefs. 

The prohibition regarding Tweets targeting those with disease is particularly timely, considering the worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Some users have seized on the epidemic to target specific ethic groups, using it as an excuse to make racist and hateful comments.

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Image source: Getty Images.

The company went on to say that Tweets that violate this policy -- even if they were posted before today -- would need to be deleted. Going forward, users will be required to abide by the newer, stricter rules or risk having their account suspended. Tweets that were posted prior to the announcement of these latest rules will be removed but will not result in account suspension.

This expands and clarifies elements of Twitter's hateful conduct policy, which includes using hateful images, making threats, or promoting violence. It also adds to the company's existing policy, as the platform already bans a variety of inappropriate behaviors. This includes attacks against other users, particularly on the basis of "race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease." 

Twitter has long struggled to control unsuitable conduct on its platform, as the sheer volume of Tweets has consistently outweighed the technology company's ability to take down the offending messages. The platform relies on users identifying the offending messages so they can be reviewed by moderators.