Twitter’s New Privacy Policy Prevents Harassment

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Courtesy of QK (Pixabay CC0)

Twitter will allow private individuals to request the takedown of videos and pictures featuring them without their permission. The company’s announcement is part of the expansion policy against posting personal information. The aim is to prevent invasion of privacy or harassment and includes exceptions for posts shared in public interests or add value to public discourse.

This announcement received backlash as Twitter users questioned whether the policy was practical. However, Twitter’s ruling already bans the posting of phone numbers, addresses, and medical records.

The Twitter changes came a day after a high-profile reorganization when CTO Parag Agrawal replaced CEO Jack Dorsey.

A Twitter blog post reads:

 Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm. The misuse of private media can affect everyone, but can have a disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities.

The social media company’s expansive private information policy states it will evaluate complaints by the subject of a video, picture, or someone representing them.

The rule will cover all media of private individuals — it does not apply to celebrities, politicians, and other well-known people. However, Twitter will also consider posts with nonconsensual sexual imagery. The post says:

We recognize that there are instances where account holders may share images or videos of private individuals in an effort to help someone involved in a crisis situation, such as in the aftermath of a violent event, or as part of a newsworthy event due to public interest value, and this might outweigh the safety risks to a person.

Courtesy of Esther Vargas (Flickr CC0)

It may leave the media online if the videos and images are newsworthy, covered by traditional news outlets, or relevant to the community.

The objective is to remove videos and pictures inciting online harassment campaigns. In practice, the implementation will depend on the moderator’s judgment of the subtleties of a specific situation.

On top of that, the policy goes beyond the U.S. law that allows people to be filmed and photographed in public. But, Twitter said its rule is consistent with the European Union privacy laws, and they have already removed the videos and photos of private individuals in those locations.

Twitter’s new privacy rights policy extends to countries with no similar laws where users can have their photos removed if they do not like them or are used for harassment.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware


The Verge: Twitter bans posting pictures of ‘private individuals’ against their wishes; Adi Robertson
The New York Times: Twitter will take down pictures of people posted without their permission; Kate Conger

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of QK’s Pixabay Page– Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of  Esther Vargas’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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