Twitter is prohibiting the sharing of private images and videos without the consent of the people involved.
Although publishing private information is already banned on the platform – as is sharing private nude images – the new policy covers images and videos of people in ordinary settings too.
It has raised questions about the ability for street photographers and others who work in public spaces to share content.
It follows the platform banning three accounts belonging to users who took pictures of themselves in front of JK Rowling’s house in a way that ensured her address was made public, although this was already prohibited.
Much initial reaction to the move was critical, with several people who often capture photographs of others in public places – without their knowledge, for artistic purposes – warning that it empowered Twitter to censor information.
But the social media platform said it would only remove images after being contacted by the individuals affected or their legal representatives who said that they did not consent to the material being shared – it would not require users to submit consent forms while uploading content.
“There are growing concerns about the misuse of media and information that is not available elsewhere online as a tool to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of individuals,” the company explained.
“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,” it added.
Twitter also said the policy was “not applicable to media featuring public figures or individuals when media and accompanying Tweet text are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse”.
However some critics have asked whether Twitter as a company should be the appropriate arbiter of what is in the public interest.
The company said it would also take into consideration whether the image being shared was publicly available or whether it was being covered by traditional media organisations when deciding whether to remove an image.
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