Twitter Cracks Down on Revenge Porn

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Twitter Finally Banned Revenge Porn. Now How to Enforce It?.

Twitter has taken steps to clamp down on “revenge porn” and leaked photos of nude celebrities by updating its official rules so that consent is required from the subject of photos posted to the site. Thousands of intimate photos of celebrities, including those of actress Jennifer Lawrence, were posted online last year and then circulated on social media after a breach of their passwords. The new private information clause added to its rules states: “You may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.” It has added the same clause under its “threats and abuse” guidelines. The micro-blogging site said that users who report content shared without their consent will be required to verify their identity and prove their lack of consent over images.

Posting “revenge porn” images and video was made a criminal offence in England and Wales with prison sentences up to two years for those found guilty of posting content without the subjects consent. Set aside for a moment the confounding fact that until just a few hours ago posting nude pictures of another unwilling human was kosher in the Twitterverse. The move comes in the wake of Twitter chief Dick Costolo saying the site “sucks” at dealing with trolls, and needs to do more to battle the spread of abuse on the site. “I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. The move by Twitter forms part of chief executive Dick Costolo’s push to try and make abusing people on the company’s platform more difficult and costly for those perpetrating the abuse while balancing freedom of speech. Twitter tripled the size of its abuse report team and vowed to crackdown on trolls that were causing outspoken members of the public and those in the public spotlight leave the service, hounded by organised campaigns of abuse aimed at silencing the minority or dissenting voice.

The new Twitter rules are plainly stated, unambiguous, and are designed to help a lot of vulnerable people: Private information: You may not publish or post other people’s private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission. Feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian was threatened with rape, sexual violence and death by Twitter trolls during the Gamergate saga after she criticised the way women are portrayed in video games.

As it outlined in response to a series of questions from Buzzfeed, the platform has a team working day and night to address complaints from its users, and violators will have their accounts suspended. To get an offending picture taken down, the victim has to first know that it exists, then ask Twitter to remove it, and finally wait an unspecified and agonizing amount of time for a ruling.

In the meantime, a determined troll can have set up a few dozen more accounts, each ready to post the same photo, triggering the entire process again. If it seems far-fetched that someone would go through all that trouble to cause another human embarrassment and pain, very recent history has demonstrated otherwise. During the peak of the Gamergate movement, female game developers—and many, many others—found themselves the victims of a barrage of Twitter harassment, some of which included the outing of “private and confidential information” that Twitter had already banned. And if your nudes are being distributed on Twitter without your knowledge, it would seem to be impossible, since takedown requests need to come directly from the aggrieved party. The company has also made a concerted effort to streamline the process of reporting harassment and abuse over the last few months, and promises even further action going forward.

There are a few reports that the company is already taking some of these more stern measures, requiring new users signing up through the indentity-masking Tor browser to provide a phone number for verification.

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