Movers and SHAKERS
Image Credit: webreats (Flickr)
Why Twitter Changed Their Safety Rules and What they Are
Last week Twitter announced it expanded its private information policy to include media. This means sharing without consent of images or videos of private individuals allows the company to take action even if it did not constitute “abusive behavior.” The reduced tolerance takes effect through a broadening of the social media platform’s private information and media policy published as part of “Twitter Safety.”
Functionally, this means pictures and videos can be removed by Twitter if the photographer does not have permission from people visible in the image prior to sharing on the social media website. Individuals who find their image shared online without consent can report the post, Twitter then decides whether it’s a breach of the new policy and to be removed.
Source: Twitter Help Center
How is this a Change?
According to Twitter, the previous policies and rules covered explicit instances of abusive behavior. The updated policy allows action on media that is shared, even if devoid of abusiveness, provided it’s posted without the consent of the person depicted. Twitter said it’s a part of its ongoing effort to align safety policies with human rights standards. Global enforcement of the change is immediate.
While the move signals a shift towards greater protection of individual privacy, there are questions around implementation and enforcement.
What is a Violation?
When non-permissible private information or media has been shared on Twitter, the site needs a first-person report or a report from an authorized representative in order to make the determination that the image or video has been shared without their permission. The categories include:
- Threatening to publicly expose someone’s private information
- Sharing information that would enable individuals to hack or gain access to someone’s private information without their consent, i.e., sharing sign-in credentials for online banking services
- Asking for or offering a bounty or financial reward in exchange for posting someone’s private information
- Asking for a bounty or financial reward in exchange for not posting someone’s private information, sometimes referred to as blackmail.
Twitter’s policy change represents a pragmatic solution, giving individuals greater control over how and if their image and or information can be shared. This is not a blanket ban on images of individuals. Twitter has said images or videos that show people participating in public events (such as large protests or sporting events) generally wouldn’t violate the policy.
Twitter says they’ll always try to assess the context in which the content is shared and may choose to allow the images or videos to remain on the service. For instance, their rules state they would take into consideration whether the image is publicly available and/or is being covered by mainstream/traditional media (newspapers, TV channels, online news sites), 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 is aware that feeling safe on their platform is different for everyone, they try to address the different needs, which they also know is an endless effort. The company says it will continue to invest in making products and policies more robust and transparent to continue to earn the trust of the people using the service.
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