The announcement prompted concern that Twitter would ban newsworthy content, but Twitter says it doesn't apply to tweets that are 'in the public interest or add value to public discourse.'
Twitter has made a broad update to its private information policy that have some critics worried about enabling censorship.
The company now says that “media of private individuals without the permission of the person(s) depicted” violates its private information policy. Those rules previously forbid sharing another person’s contact information, such as their physical location, without their consent. Now they apply to a much broader category of content.
“Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm,” Twitter says. “The misuse of private media can affect everyone, but can have a disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities.”
Twitter attempts to alleviate concerns about potential censorship by saying the policy “is 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.” But the company is the one defining “public figures” and “public discourse.”
The company says in its 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. For instance, we would take into consideration whether the image is publicly available and/or is being covered by mainstream/traditional media (newspapers, TV channels, online news sites), 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.”
It also shares an article describing the enforcement actions it can take against someone violating this updated policy. These can range from limiting a tweet’s potential audience to banning users who repeatedly break the rules. But the company also lists numerous exceptions to this policy, and exceptions to those exceptions, and so forth.
Twitter didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.