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Twitter rewrote its user guidelines so it’s easier to tell what will get you banned

Twitter hopes it can make things clearer.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Kimberly White/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Twitter is updating the set of guidelines that users have to follow so they aren’t kicked off the service in the hope that they’ll be clearer and easier to understand.

The company on Friday unveiled a new version of “The Twitter Rules,” which includes more detailed sections on what it considers abusive behavior, or the factors it takes into account before deciding whether or not to suspend someone’s account.

When users are suspended, they’ll now receive an email explaining what rule they violated. Previously, many users who were suspended never received a detailed explanation of why.

Twitter is also updating its media policy to include more examples of what it considers to be graphic or adult content. “Gruesome crime or accident scenes” would be considered graphic violence, for example. So would “bodily harm, torture, dismemberment, or mutilation.” (It may sound obvious, but these examples were never listed before.)

None of these rules are new. They’ve simply been rewritten in order to make them clearer. One of the knocks on Twitter is that it does a poor job of consistently enforcing its policies, in part because the policies have always been somewhat vague. That gives Twitter more freedom to act, but also makes it hard to act consistently across millions of accounts.

One example of how Twitter is getting more detailed: Under “violent threats,” Twitter’s rules used to read:

You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.

The new rules read:

You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism.

Twitter also added clearer language around issues like self-harm, and added some language about how it considers whether a tweet is “newsworthy” before it is removed or an account is suspended. (This generated some confusion earlier this year when Twitter had to explain that President Donald Trump’s tweets are treated differently than most others because of their news value, an internal policy that wasn’t explained publicly until now.)

And while Friday’s update was mostly cosmetic, Twitter plans to implement completely new guidelines around “violent groups, hateful imagery, and abusive usernames” later this month.

If you’re like us and don’t have Twitter’s old set of rules memorized, the company provided a helpful redlined version of the new guidelines, which you can see below.

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