TWITTER IS A SITE that's whole philosophy could be 'less is more'. Do you really need more than 140 characters, the site pondered when it launched, before concluding that ‘yes, you do,' and doubled it to 280.
This time, though, it's definitely siding on brevity. The company has announced that it's simplifying its rule book, reducing it from a 2,500-word behaviour guide to one that's just 600 in length. It's a strange one: you can't imagine the UK cutting all its legal texts down by 76 per cent and everything being just dandy, but apparently Twitter is more confident.
"As part of our continued push towards more transparency across every aspect of Twitter, we're working to make sure every rule has its own help page with more detailed information and relevant resources, with abuse and harassment, hateful conduct, suicide or self-harm, and copyright being next on our list to update," Twitter's vice president of Trust and Safety, Del Harvey wrote in a blog post explaining the changes.
"Rules should be easy to understand," said the official Twitter Safety account yesterday. "We heard you, ours weren't. We updated, reordered, and shortened them, so you can know what's not allowed on Twitter."
Helpfully, all of the rules can be outlined in 280 characters apiece, which meant the Twitter Safety account then went off on a long killjoy monologue, only punctuated by heckled from the kind of troublemakers who the rules might inconvenience.
"Might" is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence, though. The problem has never been the rules as such, but how inconsistently they were enforced. Simplifying them may make the theoretical rules easier to understand and follow, but how many people actually go and read the instruction manual first?
One former Twitter employee once called the company "a honeypot for assholes", such was its dedication to protecting the speech of people intent on making the site dreadful. It's hard to see how tinkering with the rules can make a big change unless Twitter is finally ready to enforce its own policies.
And if the past decade is anything to go by, we wouldn't bank on that being the outcome. µ
You no longer need to cut the cord off
Before they start shipping on 24 October
Another fine mesh
But, er, it'll be available in pink