A sweeping expansion of Twitter’s policy against posting private information was met with backlash shortly after the company announced it on Tuesday, as Twitter users questioned whether the policy would be practical to enforce.
Twitter’s new policy states that photos or videos of private individuals that are posted without their permission will be taken down at their request. Twitter’s rules already prohibit the posting of private information like addresses, phone numbers and medical records.
“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,” Twitter’s new policy states. “This 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.”
The policy goes further than U.S. law, which allows people to be photographed or filmed in public places. Under Twitter’s policy, people could request that photos of them be taken down even if the images were taken in public.
But Twitter said that its policy is consistent with privacy laws in the European Union and elsewhere and that it had already removed photos of private individuals in those locations, consistent with local laws.
The new policy will extend privacy rights to users in countries that do not have similar laws, a Twitter spokeswoman said. Under Twitter’s policy, a user could have a photo removed if it was used to harass them or if they simply did not like the photo.
Twitter plans to make exceptions for newsworthy images and videos, and the company will take into consideration whether the image was publicly available, was being used by traditional news outlets or was “relevant to the community.”
“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,” the policy said.
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