Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Twitter starts to protect disabled people from hateful language

Twitter announced last week that it would expand their Hateful Conduct Policy to include language that dehumanizes people with disabilities. They will remove tweets that do so, along with ones that dehumanize on the basis of age or disease. As one example, they shared the tweet "People with [Disability] are subhuman and shouldn't be seen in public."

As their new policy states, "We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative stereotypes about a protected category."

It's about time Twitter took action—for years, vile remarks about people with disabilities have been flying around. Slurs, too. Longtime readers of this blog might remember that time when I tweeted at people using the r-word. These days, the word is less prevalent but it's there and ccontinues to be used as a synonym for stupid, loser and now, Donald Trump.

The words people read on social media matter, as Twitter is finally owning up to. Facebook's "Hate Speech" section in its Community Standards also includes people with disability—although they are fine with keeping pages such as "You just went full Retard, Never go full Retard" (random capitalization as per the page, of course). Instagram's Community Guidelines also mention disabilities, but it tolerates hashtags like #retardedmemes and accounts like "retard_alerts."

Since yesterday, I've been reporting the hashtag and word when I see it on Twitter; Donald Trump will still have to defend himself. The tweets haven't yet been taken down, so it's unclear whether Twitter will agree this word is dehumanizing—although there's no question that it is. To report a tweet, click on the downward arrow bar on the top right of the tweet, then click on Report Tweet.


If you want more background on the r-word:

Video: Would you call my child a retard?

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