Three weeks after The Trace reported that Twitter users were freely distributing design files for 3D-printed guns, the social media platform rolled out a new policy prohibiting the practice.
The rule change is part of a wide-ranging update to Twitter’s general use policies, announced on June 6. The new rules explicitly state that the distribution of plans for 3D-printed guns are prohibited, and also ban users from “any unlawful purpose” or the “furtherance of illegal activities.”
Rules should be easy to understand. We heard you, ours weren’t. We updated, reordered, and shortened them, so you can know what’s not allowed on Twitter. Click through this thread for all our rules, and read our blog to learn more. https://t.co/d5GJp8urMV
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) June 6, 2019
Twitter has faced sustained criticism from politicians and gun reform advocates for not doing more to police its users’ behavior, including the sharing of 3-D gun plans. In May, The Trace documented how one Twitter user, @Det_Disp, was freely posting plans for 3D-printed guns. Spurred by a letter from Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Twitter had banned a previous account maintained by the same user. But within days, the user was back on the platform sharing gun plans.
In light of Twitter’s new rules, the @Det_Disp account has removed its tweets sharing design files.
In response to a request for comment on its updated policy, a Twitter spokesperson quoted the company’s blog post. “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,” Katie Rosborough wrote in an email.
Menendez said he is encouraged by the rule change.
“I welcome Twitter’s update to their policy to explicitly include 3-D printed gun blueprints under the list of banned activities in their platform,” Menendez said in an emailed statement. “I hope they enforce this policy and strictly monitor potential users posting such type of content.”