What Is "Dehumanizing" Speech?

The New York Times reports Twitter's struggle to define what constitutes "dehumanizing" speech. Apparently, the only agreement among Twitter's team members is that the decision is "incredibly complex."


Categorization is critical, as the company has a reputation as a sometimes dark place of trolls and harassment. Yet this week, Apple, Facebook, YouTube have expunged content from Alex Jones's Infowars, which is known for spreading misinformation, including that the shooting at Sandy Hook was a hoax. You can imagine how this angered families of lost children.

In a tweet, CEO Jack Dorsey explained Twitter's decision to keep Infowars content, but employees, particularly, have not responded positively.

Twitter is in a difficult spot because, on the other hand, sites have been criticized for censoring conservative views. Del Harvey, the company's VP of Trust and Safety, wrote an email to employees further explaining the company's rationale.

Image source.


  • How would you define "dehumanizing" speech? What character dimensions are involved?
  • What persuasive strategies does Harvey use in her email to employees? Which are most and least convincing and why?
  • What is your view about Infowars content? Should Twitter remove it from the site as other social media companies have done? How might your own political views factor into your thinking?