Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) ended 2015 by clarifying what it considers to be abusive behavior from its users. The popular micro-messaging service has updated its rules of use, which more strictly spell out the criteria. The new standards were announced in a company blog post titled "Fighting abuse to protect freedom of expression," attributed to the company's director of trust + safety, Megan Cristina.
The post explains that "[t]he updated language emphasizes that Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user's voice." The behavior is broken down into seven categories in the company's rules: violent threats (direct or indirect), harassment, hateful conduct, multiple account abuse, [dissemination of] private information, impersonation, and [threatening] self-harm. Violators of the policy are subject to temporary or permanent suspension from the service.
Does it matter?
The move is a good and heartening one, although it seems as if it was due more to external pressure than any homegrown corporate initiative. Criticism had been growing that Twitter was not acting sufficiently to prevent terrorist groups like ISIS from using the service for propaganda and recruitment purposes.
Whatever the impetus, it's a step in a good direction. It also brings Twitter more in line with the reigning king of social media, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which has had similar guidelines in place for some time. Facebook's policy is to "remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety." The bigger social media site operator breaks these threats down into eight categories, quite close to Twitter's seven.
I don't think this will have a major impact on Twitter stock; investors are more concerned with the company's uninspiring fundamentals. But any change that might help to boost user confidence, not to mention the service's reputation, is welcome.