Twitter Middle East asks users to help it take on indecent and violent content

The social media company aims to crack down on offensive language, violence and plagiarism

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2018 file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.  In a policy published Friday, Nov. 15, 2019 Twitter said it is banning ads that contain references to political content, including appeals for votes, solicitations of financial support and advocacy for or against political content. The ban also includes any ads by candidates, political parties, elected or appointed government officials. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Twitter urged users to help the company take on violent imagery, offensive language and illegal streaming of sports games in a Middle East-wide campaign launched on Monday.

The platform asked the public to report "spammy" content in a renewed drive to clean up the social network.

"We are constantly working to improve how we leverage technology to tackle spammy behaviour at speed," said George Salama, Twitter head of public policy and government relations for Middle East and North Africa.

Quote
We know that we need to do more to educate people about the safety tools that people can avail of

"But we also know that we need to do more to educate people about the safety tools that people can avail of."

In a series of videos in Arabic, Twitter singled out:

- offensive and bad language.

- sharing violent or gory images of war zones or accidents.

- posting someone's personal details, including phone numbers, without their permission.

- breaching intellectual property rights, such as content pictures and videos as if they were your own.

- streaming sports games live without a licence.

Twitter asked users to help identify fake accounts so that its teams can challenge and shut them down, if necessary.

This includes those that clearly impersonate public figures and others who post unsolicited content.

In a region where conflict and war are frequently in the news, Twitter is also focused on blocking violent images.

"For instance, some may assume that sharing gory pictures is acceptable if they are shared by a bystander, but this actually violates our rules," said Mr Salama.

"People can’t share media that’s excessively gory as it violates our safety rules. We trust that by raising more awareness of our rules and reporting systems, people in Mena who use Twitter will have a healthier, quality experience and feel like they can freely and safely participate in the public conversation."

Twitter has come under fire for its alleged failure to tackle content shared by extremist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Last month, US senators asked company chief executive Jack Dorsey to remove accounts affiliated to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Mr Dorsey recently escalated efforts to rid the site of toxic content following accusations of hateful posts, election meddling and the exploitation of personal data.

Having long been criticised for relying on users to report abuse, Twitter recently said 38 per cent of abusive content is now picked up through technology and sent for human review, an increase from none in 2018.

The social media platform said it challenged 291 million accounts for spammy behaviour between July 2018 and June 2019, and that 75 per cent of these accounts are ultimately suspended.