Twitter changes cyberbullying policy, Rutgers weighs in


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Photo by Achint Raince |

Cyberbullies and Internet trolls are in for a disappointment with Twitter's new policy change.

The microblogging platform has changed its policy to combat abuse and prevent cyberbullying of users, according to its website. The site's administrators want users to feel safe to express themselves and speak up for what they believe in.

Two policy changes will be made regarding prohibited content and enforcing policy violations.

Rules regarding abusive behavior will now be the largest section of its regulations, according to the Washington Post. Users will not be able to tweet “hateful” content that promotes violence, threatens people or promotes or threatens terrorism. Twitter will also assist people who have threatened to be suicidal.

Accounts may be locked or permanently suspended for not following these rules, according to the Washington Post.

Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief executive officer, told the Washington Post he is ashamed at how the platform's users deal with Internet trolls.

“We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them,” he said.

Vikki Katz, a professor in the Department of Communication, said that since its inception, Twitter has prided itself on being a totally open forum for exchanging ideas, regardless of who might find them objectionable. Free speech has enabled the site to become a powerful social network for users around the world.

“The move to adjust that policy to curb cyberbullying is a powerful change, which speaks to just how serious this issue is in the lives of young people growing up in a mediated world," she said.

Jeanine Dosilk, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said she has experienced cyberbullying on a website called Formspring, an anonymous question and answer-based social network.

“It was an anonymous website so I never knew who was saying these negative things about me. I didn’t let it affect my whole life, but I knew people who it really took a toll on,” she said.

Negative comments or attacks online can affect people’s whole lives for the worse, Dosilk said. Bullying has affected her friends' academic and social lives, as well as their mental health.

She believes there should be more censorship on the Internet.

“People say freedom of speech is important on social networks, but they also don’t know if the person on the other side of the screen is suicidal and can be seriously hurt by their words,” Dosilk said.

As the Internet progresses at such a high rate, she said that the rules and regulations that should come with it do not progress as quickly.

“I support Twitter’s policy change,” she said. “You can’t go up to a random person on the street and punch them in the face, so you should not be allowed to do the same thing online without consequences.”

In today’s society, everyone is active on multiple social media websites, especially college students, Dosik said.

“It is so easy to do and say anything on social networks,” she said. “But, you shouldn’t be able to hurt someone else without being held responsible.


Noa Halff

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