Twitter vows to crack down on nude photos tweeted without consent

Twitter says it's making policy changes to crack down on sexual harassment, including 'creep shots' taken without consent. It will also target hate and tweets that glorify or condone violence.

Company will allow bystanders, not just victims, to report unwanted sexual content

Twitter's policy changes aim to protect women who unknowingly or unwillingly have nude pictures of themselves distributed online or are subject to unwanted sexual advances. They would also aim to shield groups subject to hateful imagery, symbols and threats of violence. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Twitter vowed to crack down further on hate speech and sexual harassment, days after CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet-storm that the company was "still" not doing enough to protect its users.

The policy changes were specifically aimed at protecting women who unknowingly or unwillingly had nude pictures of themselves distributed online or were subject to unwanted sexual advances. They would also aim to shield groups subject to hateful imagery, symbols and threats of violence.

In an email Twitter shared with The Associated Press Tuesday, Twitter's head of safety policy outlined the new guidelines to the company's Trust and Safety Council, a group of outside organizations that advises the company on its policies against abuse.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, seen in a 2015 photo, foreshadowed the coming policy changes in a series of tweets last Friday. He said the company's efforts over the last two years were inadequate. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The company said it would enact the changes in the weeks ahead. News of the policy changes was first reported by Wired.

Permanent suspension

Among the changes, Twitter said it would immediately and permanently suspend any account it identifies as being the original poster of "non-consensual nudity," including so-called "creep shots" of a sexual nature taken surreptitiously. Previously, the company treated the original poster of the content the same as those who re-tweeted it, and it resulted only in a temporary suspension.

It said it would also develop a system allowing bystanders to report unwanted exchanges of sexually charged content, whereas in the past it relied on one of the parties involved in the conversation to come forward before taking action.

Twitter also said it would take new action on hate symbols and imagery and "take enforcement action against organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause," though it said more details were to come.

While it already takes action against direct threats of violence, the company said it would also act against tweets that glorify or condone violence.

On Friday, Dorsey foreshadowed the coming policy changes in a series of tweets, saying the company's efforts over the last two years were inadequate.

"Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we're (asterisk)still(asterisk) not doing enough," Dorsey tweeted.

The moves also come amid intense scrutiny from congressional investigators into how Russian agents used Twitter, Facebook and Google to influence last year's U.S. election. Twitter has said it would appear at a public congressional hearing on Nov. 1 after already briefing a Senate committee. The company has handed over the handles of 201 accounts it believes were linked to Russia. It has also said at least $274,000 in U.S. ads were bought by Russia Today, a Russian-government-linked media outlet, last year.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.