SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter Inc said that it would begin putting a warning in front of pictures that show Nazi swastikas and other items it determines are hateful imagery, as well as ban their use in any profile photos on the social media network.
The step is one of several that Twitter said it would take to crack down on white nationalists and other violent or hateful groups, which have become unwelcome on a service that once took an absolutist view of free speech.
Twitter said in a statement it would shut down accounts affiliated with non-government organisations that promote violence against civilians and ban usernames that constitute a violent threat or racial slur.
It said it would also remove tweets that it determined to celebrate violence or glorify people who commit violence.
Today, we are starting to enforce updates to the Twitter Rules and media policy to reduce hateful conduct and abusive behavior https://t.co/yNHAMFcVwG
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) December 18, 2017
Twitter, a San Francisco company founded in 2006, had called itself “the free speech wing of the free speech party” and tried to stay out of battles among users.
But that has changed as persistent harassers have driven some women and minorities off Twitter, limiting their ability to express themselves.
A rise in white nationalism in the United States has also changed tech industry standards. In August, social media networks began removing white nationalists after hundreds gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, and one of them was charged with murdering a 32-year-old woman by running her down in a car.
In October, Twitter vowed to toughen rules on online sexual harassment, bullying and other forms of misconduct.
Tweets can still include hate imagery, but users will have to click through a warning to see them, the company said.
Hate images will be banned from profile photos, and further restricted where national laws require, as in Germany.
The Nazi swastika was the only specific example of a hateful image that Twitter gave, but the company said it would try to give warnings for all symbols historically associated with hate groups or which depict people as less than human.
Twitter said it had decided not to categorise the US Confederate flag as hateful imagery, citing its place in history.