Twitter bans sharing 'private' images and videos without consent

The policy doesn't apply to public figures for the most part, but there are exceptions.

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Twitter has expanded its private information policy to include media, banning users from sharing photos or videos of a private individual without their permission. The company notes that tweeting such images can violate someone's privacy and potentially lead to harm against them.

The Twitter Safety team wrote in a blog post that although anyone can be impacted by private media being shared, it "can have a disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents and members of minority communities." If someone reports a photo or video that violates the policy, Twitter will remove the media and take action based on its enforcement options. Those include downranking the visibility of the tweet in replies and search results or telling the person who posted it to delete the tweet. Twitter also has the right to permanently suspend users who violate the policy.

There are some exceptions to the policy. It doesn't cover private media of public figures or others if a photo or video, and the text in the tweet, "are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse." In other words, if it's newsworthy, Twitter may allow the media to remain on the platform. The company will consider factors such as whether the images are available elsewhere, such as on TV or in newspapers.

That said, if the goal of sharing private photos or videos of public figures "or individuals who are part of public conversations is to harass, intimidate or use fear to silence them," Twitter might remove the media. The abusive behavior and non-consensual nudity (i.e., revenge porn) policies still apply.

Twitter has long banned sharing private information about other people, such as addresses, phone numbers, ID or financial information (in other words, doxing someone). It also doesn't allow users to intimidate others by threatening to release such details. The company says it will start enforcing the private image rule today and that the new measure is part of its work to bring its safety policies in line with human rights standards.