Twitter Tightens Its Reins on Free Speech. Now Banned: Making Fun of Someone's Age

Dr. Osama Eltayeb, a cardiovascular surgeon who operated on heart transplant patient Sofia Sanchez at Ann



What’s happening to our society?

Up ’til relatively recently, it seems to me, people lived according to their beliefs and spoke their minds. And most Americans didn’t study the thoughts and opinions of others. Generally, folks didn’t look for expressed societal affirmation, much less demand it.


Free speech was a touted virtue, and words could never break your bones.

Furthermore, if someone was unkind with their words — which, to be clear, is not nice, good, or recommended — the conventional wisdom was to ignore them. Be strong in yourself. Go forward. Forget the haters.

But now it appears we’re all due for an x-ray, because bones are broken all over the place.

Hence, we need protection.

From syllables.

Surely that cultural evolution is informing the rules applied by social media organizations, including Twitter’s newest “hateful conduct” restrictions.

Turns out, written rudeness by goofballs must be outlawed.

Down with crayoned crappiness.

Therefore, as of Thursday, turdy typists will be disciplined for using any language that “dehumanizes on the basis of age, disability or disease.”

Twitter provided a few examples of things no one’s allowed to spell out:

“All [Age Groups] are leeches and don’t deserve any support from us.”

“People with [Disease] are rats that contaminate everyone around them.”

The Bluebird also says any tweets in violation that were made before March 5th will have to be removed if there’s a complaint:


If reported, Tweets that break this rule pertaining to age, disease and/or disability, sent before today will need to be deleted, but will not directly result in any account suspensions because they were Tweeted before the rule was in place.

Here’s more:

We…realize we don’t have all the answers, which is why we have developed a global working group of outside experts to help us think about how we should address dehumanizing speech around more complex categories like  race, ethnicity and national origin. This group will help us understand the tricky nuances, important regional and historical context and ultimately help us answer questions like:

How do we protect conversations people have within marginalized groups, including those using reclaimed terminology?

How do we ensure that our range of enforcement actions take context fully into account, reflect the severity of violations, and are necessary and proportionate?

How can – or should – we factor in considerations as to whether a given protected group has been historically marginalized and/or is currently being targeted into our evaluation of severity of harm?

How do we account for “power dynamics that can come into play across different groups?

The intro to the update makes it clear — it’s an issue of safety:

We create our rules to keep people safe on Twitter…

Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research* shows that dehumanizing language increases that risk.


So there ya go.

Things are tightening up on social media.

As we move further toward actual rules — as opposed to decorum or personal sensibilities — dictating speech, I guess everybody will be safer. From everything but being suspended.



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