Twitter on Tuesday has announced that it will be banning the sharing of photos of private individuals without their consent. The rule does not apply to public figures if the media and the tweet are of public interest; content featuring those people may be removed if the platform determines it’s being shared to “harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence them.”
It remains to be seen how much of this will affect citizen journalism with the coverage of Critical Race Theory in classrooms and schools, Antifa activities, or crimes committed in public. Twitter assures that only harassment of private individuals will be covered under the new rule.
In a blog post, Twitter announced an update to its private information policy, which notes that people can contact Twitter to have offending media removed from the social media platform.
“Sharing images is an important part of folks' experience on Twitter,” the platform stated. “People should have a choice in determining whether or not a photo is shared publicly. To that end we are expanding the scope of our Private Information Policy.”
“Beginning today, we will not allow the sharing of private media, such as images or videos of private individuals without their consent. Publishing people's private info is also prohibited under the policy, as is threatening or incentivizing others to do so,” it added.
“This policy update will help curb the misuse of media to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of private individuals, which disproportionately impacts women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities,” Twitter stated, clarifying that images or videos that show people participating in public events, such as “large-scale protests, sporting events, etc.” do not generally violate this policy.
To put it in layman’s terms, a video of Antifa militants assaulting journalist Andy Ngo, and later being identified, would not fall under the platform’s ban. However, a video of a hotel worker being harassed by a customer and humiliated would violate the rule.
Twitter says that in order to take down an offending video or photograph, it will require a first-person report of the photo/video in question. After it receives a report, that particular media will be reviewed before any enforcement action is taken.
“Context matters,” the platform stated. “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.”
“We will take into consideration whether the image is publicly available and/or is being covered by journalists — or if a particular image and the accompanying Tweet text adds value to the public discourse — is being shared in public interest or is relevant to the community,” Twitter clarified.