Editor's Note: If you or someone around you is exhibiting suicidal tendencies or self-harm please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
If you’re a frequent Twitter user—and especially if you’re a woman or person of color—there’s a good chance someone’s slid into your DMs or mentions at some point to tell you to kill yourself. These users don’t just ruin the platform for everyone, but online harassment can cause serious, real-world harm.
To try to combat the trolls, Twitter announced last week that it would update its guidelines to include more specific language around self-harm and suicide:
As TechCrunch notes, a new section of its policies, “Glorifying self-harm and suicide,” outlines how the platform plans to enact its rules: By supporting people who are experiencing self-harming or suicidal thoughts, and prohibiting “the promotion or encouragement of self-harming behaviors.”
Examples of encouraging or glorifying self-harm include tweeting about self-injury, such as cutting, eating disorders, or act of taking one’s own life, including discussing suicide strategies and group suicide games.
The CDC has long reported that media outlets and public forums addressing suicide have to be careful about “suicide contagion,” including glorifying self-harm or suicide. This was a consideration even in the 90s, long before social media platforms like Twitter made it easy and accessible to be exposed to a deluge of harmful, harassing messages on a daily basis.
Recently, this issue made national headlines as porn performer August Ames became the victim of online bullying on Twitter, as users dogpiled on her account after her tweet about gay performers. At least one person suggested that she should kill herself. She ultimately completed suicide.