Twitter is expanding on its safety policy that is said to be a step forward to protecting people against harassment more so in situations where images or video’s of individuals are shared without their consent.
The social platform updated its private information safety policy yesterday banning the sharing of images or videos of private individuals without their consent allowing the company to expand on its anti-harassment and anti-doxxing policies which make them more robust.
Twitter already has a policy that bans users from sharing others’ personal information without permission, like their address or location, identity documents, non-public contact information, financial information or medical data.
According to the social giant, images or video of private individuals shared without their permission is now against its policies and can be removed on request. The new rule hopes to prohibit “doxxing” – the publishing of private information such as home addresses, without consent.
However, critics have come out to say that the new policy could be “used to deliberately stifle free expression on the platform” but Twitter said it would consider the context in which images were posted.
According to BBC, Twitter said it would take into consideration whether an image was publicly available, on news websites or “if a particular image and the accompanying tweet text adds value to the public discourse, is being shared in the public interest, or is relevant to the community”.
Before removing images or taking enforcement action, Twitter said, it must be notified by the “individuals depicted, or by an authorised representative, that they did not consent to having their private image or video shared”.
This doesn’t mean that Twitter will require consent from all individuals in a photo or video before its posted. But if a person depicted wants the media taken down, it will take it down.
“When we are notified by individuals depicted, or by an authorized representative, that they did not consent to having their private image or video shared, we will remove it,” Twitter wrote in its update. “This policy is not applicable to media featuring public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse.”
Twitter expands on its safety policy
The company has furthered stated that its new policy aims to stop images and video from being used to “harass, intimidate and reveal the identities of private individuals, which disproportionately impacts women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities”.
Twitter’s statement read: “Images/videos that show people participating in public events – like large scale protests, sporting events, et cetera – would generally not violate this policy.”
And it “is not applicable to media featuring public figures or individuals when media and accompanying tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse”.
A public figure could include anyone written about in the press, elected officials and political leaders, celebrities, top executives, news broadcasters and reporters and other public speakers, Twitter said. The policy would also not apply to individuals who are the subject of public conversations online or offline.
However, if the intention was to “harass, intimidate or use fear to silence them, we may remove the content, in line with our policy against abusive behaviour”, Twitter said.
“Context matters. Our existing private information policy includes many exceptions in order to enable robust reporting on newsworthy events and conversations that are in the public interest,” the app wrote.
It is also a surprise for some given the fact that the new policy comes after Jack stepped down as CEO of Twitter. Nonetheless, there seems to be no indication that the policy change is related to his departure.
There are still concerns, however, that new policy could be end up being misused or abused in an attempt to limit free expression on the platform.
Author: Allan Bangirana
Allan Bangirana has a taste for all kinds of topics and usually writes about tech, entertainment, sports and community projects that make a difference in society.