Our approach to blocking links

Overview

July 2020

At times, Twitter will take action to limit or prevent the spread of URL links to content outside Twitter. This is done by displaying a warning notice when the link is clicked, or by blocking the link so that it can’t be Tweeted at all.

We may take action to limit the spread of the following categories of links:

  • Malicious links that could steal personal information or harm electronic devices. This includes:
    • Links that contain or lead to malware
    • Attempts at phishing
  • Spammy links that mislead people or disrupt their experience. This includes:
    • Malicious redirected links that send people to an unexpected destination
    • Links associated with known platform manipulation campaigns
    • URL shorteners that are primarily used to mislead or deceive people about the website’s content. 
    • Otherwise misleading or deceptive links; e.g., malicious affiliate links and clickjacking links

Find out more about our platform manipulation and spam policy.

  • Certain categories of content that, if posted directly on Twitter, would violate our rules. This includes links to websites that feature:
    • Terrorism and violent extremism
      • Media, or other content created by terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups
      • Recruitment sites for a terrorist organization or violent extremist group
    • Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
      • Media depicting CSE
      • Identification of child survivors of sexual abuse
    • Illegal or certain regulated goods or services
      • Offers to buy, sell, or facilitate transactions in illegal goods or services, as well as certain types of regulated goods or services
    • Hateful conduct
      • Content that promotes violence against, threatens or harasses other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease
    • Violence 
      • Content that threatens violence against an individual or a group of people, or glorifies violence where people were targeted because of their membership in a protected group, or the perpetrators of such acts
    • Private information
      • Other people's private information that was posted without their express authorization and permission 
    • Non-consensual nudity
      • Intimate media of someone that was shared without their consent
    • Content that interferes with civic and election integrity
      • Misleading information about how to vote or register to vote
    • Hacked material
      • Content obtained through hacking that contains private information, may put people in physical harm or danger, or contains trade secrets
         
  • Violent or misleading content that could lead to real-world harm in the aftermath of a crisis incident. This includes, but is not limited to, links to websites that contain:
    • Manifestos associated with violent incidents
    • Media that depicts acts associated with a violent incident

How we surface links

We use a combination of factors to identify links that we may ultimately take enforcement action against. We receive information about links from many sources, including:

  • Third-party vendors who specialize in countering spam and malware
  • Collaborative information sharing with industry peers and trusted NGO partners
  • Internal technology and tools
  • Reported Tweets

Our enforcement options

We consider several factors when deciding whether to introduce a warning notice to a link, or to prevent it from being shared on Twitter. These considerations include:

  • The source of the URL in question and our degree of certainty that the link is malicious or harmful. For example:
    • Links reviewed by Twitter may be blocked outright, whereas a warning notice may be applied to links we first become aware of via lower-confidence information sharing from trusted third parties
  • The severity of the website’s content
  • Context and apparent intent of the link sharer. For instance:
    • We may treat newsworthy links shared by journalists differently than if the link were shared by someone else
    • We may treat links to websites criticizing or commenting on content that violates our rules differently than links sharing the content straightforwardly or without commentary
    • We may treat links with commentary glorifying a violent incident differently than links expressing outrage about the same incident

Accounts dedicated to sharing content which we block, or which attempt to circumvent a block on the sharing a link, may be subject to additional enforcement action, including suspension. Learn more about our range of enforcement options. In some cases, the sharing of a link will also result in account suspension due to a zero-tolerance policy (for instance, if a link is shared to child sexual exploitation content).

About blocked links

If we have blocked a link, you will see an error message if you try to include it in your Tweet or Direct Message, or on your profile. The message reads: “You can’t complete this action because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Please visit our Help Center to learn more.”

About links that have warning notices

In some instances, Twitter will introduce a warning that the link may be unsafe. The warning notice can be clicked through if you wish to proceed to the third-party site. When a link has been categorized by Twitter as meeting the criteria for a warning notice, it will also have limited visibility on Twitter. Read more about limited Tweet visibility.

Miscategorized links

We work at a rapid pace and in collaboration with third parties to stay on top of emerging malicious or harmful links. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, links can be miscategorized.

If you notice that a link has been blocked or has a warning notice and you believe this is in error, you can report it to us via this form. In the “problematic link” field, please insert the extended URL of the link, rather than a shortened version.

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