Popular social media app Twitter has updated its hate-speech rules by banning posts that dehumanise religious groups with demeaning names.

This policy had resulted in account suspensions of users spreading stereotypes about religious groups, such as claiming all adherents were terrorists. The use of images that might stir up hatred is also prohibited and the ban will later be extended to cover more groups over time.

Tech companies have struggled to find a balance between free expression and protecting users from attacks as defining hate speech is a non-linear concept in an already difficult debate. On the one hand, free-speech advocates have suggested using other, less-regulated, social media alternatives. Civil rights activists, however, have welcomed the move but are not convinced as to what extent the policy will be implemented.

This action follows Twitter saying it would start enforcing the same rule to politicians who broke its code of coduct rules, thus removing the existing exception for them.

US President Donald J. Trump recently accused tech leaders of favouring his political rivals and said Twitter should be sued as a consequence. A US appeals court has ruled that Trump must not block people from following him on Twitter after seven people sued him for preventing them from seeing or responding his tweets, which was confirmed by the court as a violation of the United States’ First Amendment right to free speech.