Twitter has recently announced a new policy aimed at increasing transparency around tweets that have been subject to enforcement action for violating its policies, specifically its Hateful Conduct policy. Previously, when a tweet violated Twitter’s policies, the company could limit its reach through a process called “visibility filtering”. Such tweets would remain online but become less discoverable, and users would need to visit the author’s profile directly to see them. However, this enforcement process was not always visible to the wider public, leaving them uncertain about which tweets had been moderated in this way.
Twitter’s new policy will change this by adding visible labels on tweets that have been identified as potentially violating its policies and thus have had their visibility impacted. This move will ensure that enforcement actions are more proportional and transparent for everyone on the platform. The company has emphasized that its enforcement philosophy is centered around “Freedom of Speech, not Freedom of Reach”, and users whose tweets are labeled will still be able to submit feedback if they believe their tweet was incorrectly flagged.
However, Twitter also notes that not all tweets that have had their visibility reduced will be labeled, and the labeling process may not be entirely free of errors. The company may rely heavily on automation to make its decisions over labeling, and while authors will be able to appeal Twitter’s decision in the future, the company may not guarantee the tweet’s reach will be restored.
It is important to note that Twitter’s recent policies and adjustments may be an effort to strike a balance between two opposing forces: the need to uphold free speech and the demands for transparency made by its new owner Elon Musk, as well as the need to keep the business running smoothly and win back the trust of the network’s advertisers. Since Musk took over, advertisers have been fleeing the platform, with major brands like Mars, AT&T, and VW leaving due to concerns over brand safety. Twitter hopes that labeling tweets that have been de-ranked will help marketers feel more comfortable that their ads aren’t running directly alongside hate speech.
However, with constantly changing policies and features, including a now pay-for-reach version of Twitter Blue and changes to how news outlets are labeled, many reliable newsrooms like PBS, NPR, and CBC have left the platform entirely.It’s unclear if Twitter’s new guidelines will help rebuild user confidence in the network and strike a balance between the needs of free expression and a running company.