Twitter was scrutinized and praised this past week, and it was mostly due to their application of freedom of expression on their website. Though the corporation has long maintained a stance on allowing users to post any kind of expression that does not involve harassing others, it does not appear to apply to gruesome images of war and violence. Twitter recently took a stance on its policy to allow users to post certain kinds of pictures, especially because its website has been at the center of attention with threats made by Islamic State (IS) militants.
Twitter was recently the focus of propaganda coming from the notorious group known as IS. Because IS has been posting gruesome pictures on Twitter and violent videos on YouTube.com, Twitter has taken action against its very own policies regarding content.
In a report by Yoree Koh and Reed Albergotti of The Wall Street Journal, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was reported to have tweeted that any accounts tweeting gruesome footage would be suspended. This comes after images of the beheading of American journalist, James Foley, had surfaced all over the website and the family of Foley had asked Twitter to take the footage down.
According to Koh and Reed, Twitter has made it clear that their employees are not hunting for gory or violent images. Instead, Twitter is relying on their users to report any offensive media. The company has been reported as rather liberal on which content they allow, but Costolo recently tweeted that Twitter has “been and are actively suspending accounts” according to graphic material posted and certain kinds of requests.
Twitter has recently faced scrutiny and praise as a report by Meg Wagner of the New York Daily News reported IS militants have also threatened the U.S. on Twitter. Wagner stated that according to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, threats were made toward the areas of Chicago and Washington DC. One specific tweet dated Aug. 9 had stated “We are in your state. We are in your cities. We are in your streets.” The tweet included pictures of specific objects located in each area.
Due to these types of tweets, the FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security prompted officials to be on “high alert.” Though the photos had a time stamp of June 20 and the original threat was untraceable, it appears these departments are taking the threats very seriously. This has also prompted Twitter to take action on suspending accounts which appear to be affiliated with IS. The U.S. corporation does has a policy against using accounts and services to post threats.
Even though Twitter is getting mixed feedback over the change of its policies pertaining to the posting of content, the network has been praised as one of the highest ranking companies to work for according to employee feedback. A report on the Glassdoor career website stated Twitter received an average score of 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 for company culture and values. The survey took place between July 2013 and July 2014. Perks were reported as including rooftop meetings and free in-office yoga sessions at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, California, as well as about 1,600 employees who participated in the launching of the corporation and obtained corporate shares.
Twitter has recently been in the middle of controversial topics, including the prevention of propaganda from IS, as well as limiting posts on images related to death and violence. The real spark came after the death of Robin Williams, according to a report by the Huffington Post, and particularly after Williams’ daughter had received gory pictures of her father’s death. Since then, Twitter has come under scrutiny and praise as a social media outlet often used for freedom of expression. The real praise appears to come from the values Twitter aims to keep, whether by revamping their policies, or helping their employees stay happy.
By Liz Pimentel
See also Guardian Liberty Voice