(HorizonPost.com) – In November, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder, announced his departure from the company and handed over his responsibilities as CEO to Parag Agrawal, the social media platform’s chief technology officer. Only a day after the change, Twitter changed its photo and privacy policies, and some critics are concerned.
Now, users must obtain permission from individuals shown in any private photo they wish to share before posting it. The new policy allows an individual to lodge a complaint if they didn’t give permission to have their photo shared. Then, Twitter reviews the complaint and photo before deciding whether it to have it removed.
The intention is to stop harassment and bullying on the app, but new rules leave the decision about what it will post up to the social media company. Experts fear it could have some unforeseen ramifications for news agencies and halt the legal ability to hold some people accountable for their actions.
New Rules for Twitter
The new Twitter rule applies to photos, videos, and personal information that “can potentially violate a person’s privacy” and lead to either physical or psychological harm. Doxxing, or revealing someone’s private address, is a problem for the platform, and the rule change directly addresses that issue. Twitter stated on November 30, even though the use of private media could hurt anyone, it has a “disproportionate effect” on minority communities, women, and activists.
The new system incorporates a monitoring tool, but it also relies on a reporting aspect by other users, which some observers believe may lead to the feature’s abuse. They allege the rule is too broad and unclear.
The new Twitter policy has a few exceptions. They exempt public figures, public events, sports games, and large-scale protests where procuring complete consent would be a virtual impossibility.
The Possible Downsides
Documentarian Ford Fischer sees a downside to the photo and video policy, according to NPR. He said it puts the decision into “the hands of Twitter,” which could affect journalism reporting. Fischer talks about two instances, in particular, involving a police officer ordering the removal of the press from a Supreme Court confirmation hearing and bodycam footage of an officer tasing and arresting an ATF agent.
He thinks Twitter is an important tool for journalists to keep officials and others accountable for their actions, and he doesn’t like that it will be up to a Twitter monitor to decide what counts as news.
Intentions vs. Reality
Although the intention behind the Twitter policy might have its roots in protection, the result of such a broad policy could have peripheral consequences. Since the rules already went into effect, Twitter users in the US will see how well it works in practice.
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