According to a new clause added to the site’s privacy guidelines, users “may not post photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.” Prior to the addition of the clause, the privacy guidelines only prohibited users from publishing personal information such as street address, credit card and Social Security numbers.
The same clause was also added to the “threats and abuse” guidelines.
The new rules allow Twitter users who see unauthorized or non-consensual photos of themselves posted online to report abuse to the company. Only the subject of the photo can report the abuse, and can request that Twitter remove the picture. In addition to removing the photos, Twitter will also suspend the account of the person who posted it.
The move comes a few weeks after another social media site, Reddit, announced similar policies to crack down on the spread of nude photos and “revenge porn” on its site. This is reflective of a growing trend in social media firms, as they struggle to balance preventing abusive use of their platforms with protecting free expression.
Twitter’s response to growing concerns over online harassment and abuse has been slow, particularly as the social media company prides itself on being a protector of free speech. Until the recent policy updates, the company has primarily dealt with online abuse by giving users more control over their accounts.
A recently leaked memo written by Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo revealed that the company was beginning to grow much more concerned about online abuse. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on our platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.” Costolo admitted.
Costolo also took personal responsibility for the company’s shortcomings, and added “we’re going to fix it, and I’m going to take full responsibility for making sure that the people working night and day on this have the resources they need to address the issues.”
Other measures Twitter has taken in combatting the spread of non-consensual material on its site include issuing a new FAQ on stolen nude photos and tripling the size of its abuse report team.