Twitter is updating its hate-speech rules to prohibit tweets from referring to religious groups in dehumanising terms such as rats or parasites.
It follows a consultation with users on its hateful conduct policy, during which many said they would still like to be able to use similar insults to describe political organisations and hate groups.
The social media giant has already banned users from spreading scaremongering stereotypes about religious groups and from using photo-editing to add “hateful symbols” to individuals, such as the yellow Star of David badge used by the Nazis.
Anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate said Twitter’s policy change was welcome but late, with the organisation’s campaign director Matthew McGregor saying the tech company had “dragged its feet” on the issue of dehumanising terms.
In December 2017 Twitter said it had widened what it deemed hateful or harmful behaviour on its platform, saying symbols such swastikas would now be hidden.
It defines hateful imagery as “logos, symbols or images whose purpose is to promote hostility and malice against others based on their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity/national origin”.
Twitter’s consultations are led by its Trust and Safety Council, a group consisting of representatives of more than 40 organisations, including the US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL).