"If people seem like cockroaches or microbes, it’s okay to get rid of them."


​Twitter is working to expand its rules of conduct to ban "dehumanizing" language on the platform. 


The social media giant is asking the public for feedback as they finalize a policy that would crack down on language that "treats others as less than human," according to a ​blog post published on Tuesday. 


"Language that makes someone less than human can have repercussions off the service, including normalizing serious violence," the company explained. 

The current "hateful conduct" policy bans users from threatening or directly attacking others on the basis of factors such as race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender. But Twitter wants to go further and "include content that dehumanizes others based on their membership in an identifiable group, even when the material does not include a direct target."


The announcement cited research by scholar Susan Benesch, founder of The Dangerous Speech Project, who argues that dehumanization can consist of referring to people as insects, despised animals, bacteria, or cancer. 


According to the ​The Dangerous Speech Project, "This can make violence seem acceptable: if people seem like cockroaches or microbes, it’s okay to get rid of them."


Twitter will be receiving user feedback through a survey until October 9 and the new policy, which has been cooking for three months, will not go into effect until next year 


It is the first time the company considers the public's opinion to shape its policy, as it attempts to be more open about the decision-making behind the content it deems acceptable.

The move plays into concerns that the platform is ​targeting them and attempting to censor speech protected by the First Amendment. 


Unsurprisingly, many saw the announcement as the next step in the company's attack on free speech. 


Even liberals, like gossip blogger Perez Hilton took issue with Twitter's move and expressed concern it would get in the way of his right to free expression.

As one Twitter user pointed out, the anti-dehumanizing language ban would probably impact President Donald Trump, who has ​repeatedly referred to rivals as "dogs."


Germania is a staff writer at Pluralist.

You can reach her on ​Twitter.