Twitter wasted no time in forging new policy ground after the sudden departure of founder Jack Dorsey on Monday. First thing in the morning Tuesday, the company announced a new set of private information policies that it says will make privacy controls “more robust” on the platform. Among the changes is a new ban on the posting of images or video of private citizens without consent.
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.https://t.co/7EXvXdwegG— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 30, 2021
They make it sounds as if they’re cracking down on doxxing and harassment, which still totally happens on that platform, so any changes would surely be welcome. But there’s one particular line of the new policy that gave people chills. In particular, it is now a violation of Twitter terms to post “media of private individuals without the permission of the person(s) depicted.”
Wait a minute, don’t we all have crowd pictures of people we posted to Twitter without each individuals’ express consent? And how would we have known about Ted Cruz’s trip to the Ritz-Carlton Cancun without people posting pictures of him without his consent?
Twitter promptly spent the morning “clarifying” what this new new policy means. In updates posted several hours after the original announcement, Twitter added that “Images/videos that show people participating in public events (like large scale protests, sporting events, etc.) would generally not violate this policy.”
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 Safety (@TwitterSafety) November 30, 2021
They also added that there are exceptions to “enable robust reporting on newsworthy events and conversations that are in the public interest.” I’m guessing that this would mean things like Ted Cruz high-tailing it to Cancun while 700 Texans were dying without water or electricity. But does this cover complaining Kevins and Karens making a stink at airports over masks?
It sounds like Twitter will only enact the policy if someone complains. The details of the new policy say that “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.” So it remains to be seen if regular folks being harassed on Twitter will be afforded the same privileges as Ted Cruz with an army of well-paid attorneys. But the new guy in charge is at least making efforts to limit harassment, and we’ll hope his commitment is not fleeting.
Image: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels