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Twitter bans sharing people’s private photos, videos without consent

The social media platform says it will remove private images and videos tweeted by users if reported by the person depicted in the media, their parent, or their authorized representative.

One day after the co-founder Jack Dorsey stepped down as Twitter’s CEO and former CTO Parag Agrawal took over the reins at the company, the social media giant announced an expansion to its private information policy to include “private media,” prohibiting posts that include media depicting private individuals without their consent.

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

Previously, the company’s ban on doxxing included exposing other people's phone numbers, addresses, IDs, and similar sensitive information.

Not everyone’s private information is included in the ban, however. For example, images of public figures such as celebrities and politicians are allowed, if “shared in the public interest” or used to “add value to public discourse.”

Hot takes on all sides

Needless to say, Twitter’s “private media” announcement has been controversial, to say the least, with users debating how the policy could be misused by bad actors.

Critics on both sides of the political spectrum consider the new policy to be purposefully vague, possibly leaving too much room for interpretation and making it difficult to enforce, as well as subject to abuse.

“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,” reads Twitter’s announcement.

“We will always try to assess the context in which the content is shared and, in such cases, we may allow the images or videos to remain on the service.”

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