Twitter Changes Rules, Bans Homophobia, Transphobia, But Not the 'F' Slur


Haters who make homophobic and transphobic statements in 140 characters or less will no longer be tolerated by Twitter, the company announced. But a California man believes there is one exception: He says Twitter doesn't consider the antigay slur "faggot" offensive.

The Twitter Rules, as they are called, now explicitly ban “Hateful Conduct”, which it defines as follows:

You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.”

Megan Cristina, Twitter’s director of trust and safety, announced the updated rules last week in a blog post titled “Fighting Abuse to Protect Freedom of Expression.” Her statement on the blog said Twitter felt it necessary to “clarify what we consider to be abusive behaviour and hateful conduct.” 

“The updated language emphasizes that Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice,” wrote Cristina. “As always, we embrace and encourage diverse opinions and beliefs — but we will continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse.”

On its rules page, Twitter makes it clear that failure to abide by the rules “may result in the temporary locking and/or permanent suspension of account(s).”

However, this change isn’t being consistently applied, apparently. University of California, Los Angeles, law student and Twitter user Ryan Kendall, who uses the handle @rmk2145, filed a report with Twitter about a hateful message he received in response to a tweet, asking Pope Francis why he would allow one of his cardinals to repeatedly use “faggot”  in reference to U.S. Ambassador Wally Brewster. 

Someone then used that word in a tweet directed at Kendall. He reported both the tweet and the account, and received a response from the support team, informing him it decided the use of the word was not a violation of its rules. Kendall shared that message on his Facebook page and started an online campaign on Tumblr, Twitter Loves Hate. 

Kendall tells The Advocate, “I applaud Twitter for banning homophobic and transphobic abuse, but such a policy is meaningless unless it is enforced. So far, Twitter has failed to effectively do so.” He announced on his Facebook page that he has asked Twitter’s media relations team for an explanation. 

The Advocate has also contacted that office, and we’ll update our reporting once we get a response. Kendall tweeted that he's still waiting too.