Cayman Islands, Caribbeanand International News
Thursday, Jan 26, 2023

Twitter Has Banned Posting Images Of People Without Consent - Why That's A Good Thing

Twitter Has Banned Posting Images Of People Without Consent - Why That's A Good Thing

According to Twitter, this change comes in response to "growing concerns about the misuse of media and information that is not available elsewhere online as a tool to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of individuals".

Twitter recently announced that it will no longer allow “the sharing of private media, such as images or videos of private individuals without their consent”. The move takes effect through an expansion of the social media platform's private information and media policy.

In practical terms, this means photos and videos can be removed if the photographer has not obtained consent from people captured prior to sharing the item on Twitter. Individuals who find their image shared online without consent can report the post, and Twitter will then decide whether it's to be taken down.

According to Twitter, this change comes in response to “growing concerns about the misuse of media and information that is not available elsewhere online as a tool to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of individuals”.

While the move signals a shift towards greater protection of individual privacy, there are questions around implementation and enforcement.

In contrast to some European countries – France, for example, has a strong privacy culture around image rights under Article 9 of the French Civil Code – the UK doesn't have such a strong tradition of image rights.

This means there is little an individual can do to prevent an image of themselves being circulated freely online, unless it's deemed to fall within limited legal protection. For example, in relevant circumstances an individual may be protected under section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, which addresses image-based sexual abuse. Legal protection may also be available if the image is deemed to contravene copyright or data protection provisions.

On the one hand, the freedom to photograph is fiercely defended, largely by the media and photographers. On the other, private, unwanted or humiliating photographs can cause significant upset and distress, with a clash of rights between the photographer (the legal owner of the photograph) and the photographed (often laying no claim to the image).

My research

For my PhD, I surveyed 189 adults living in England and Wales on their experiences with images shared online, particularly via social media. My findings were published earlier this year.

Although some participants were not bothered or were even pleased to come across images of themselves shared online, for others, finding images which they didn't consent to being posted made them feel uneasy. As one participant said:

Fortunately I didn't look too bad and wasn't doing anything stupid, but I'd prefer to control images of myself appearing in public.

Another said:

I was quite angry about having my image shared on social media without my permission.

A narrow majority of respondents supported an increase in legal protection of individual rights to mean that their image could not be used without consent (55% agreed, 27% were not sure and 18% disagreed). Meanwhile, 75% of respondents felt social media sites should play a greater role in protecting privacy.

I found people were not necessarily seeking legal protection in this regard. Many were just looking for some kind of avenue, such as it being the norm for photographs posted on social media without permission to be removed at the request of the person photographed.

Twitter's policy change represents a pragmatic solution, giving individuals greater control over how their image is used. This may be helpful, particularly from a safety perspective, to the groups Twitter has identified, which include women, activists, dissidents and members of minority communities. For example, an image which reveals the location of a woman who has escaped domestic violence could put that person in significant danger if the image is seen by her abuser.

It also may be helpful to children subject to “sharenting” – having images shared online by their parents at every stage of growing up. In theory, these children can now report these images once they're old enough to understand how. Alternatively, they can have a representative do this for them.

Teething problems

The change has understandably caused some consternation, particularly among photographers. Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has criticised the policy for being “overly broad”, arguing it will lead to censorship online.

It's important to note that this is not a blanket ban on images of individuals. Twitter has said images or videos that show people participating in public events (such as large protests or sporting events) generally wouldn't violate the policy.

They also draw attention to a number of exceptions, including where the image is newsworthy, in the public interest, or where the subject is a public figure. But how public interest will be interpreted would benefit from greater clarity. Similarly, how this policy will apply to the media is not entirely clear.

There were already a few teething problems within a week of the policy launching. Co-ordinated reports by extremist groups pertaining to photos of themselves at hate rallies reportedly resulted in numerous Twitter accounts belonging to anti-extremism researchers and journalists being suspended by mistake. Twitter said it has corrected the errors and launched an internal review.

There are also concerns that minority groups may be harmed by the policy if they run into difficulties sharing images highlighting abuse or injustice, such as police brutality. Although Twitter has said that such events would be exempted from the rule on the grounds of being newsworthy, how this will be enforced is not yet clear.

There are certainly issues that need to be ironed out. But ultimately, this policy change does have the potential to protect individual privacy and facilitate a more considered approach to the sharing of images.


Related Articles

Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
If a country is denied the right to independence by another, it is not in a union. It is in a dictatorship.
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
British PM Rishi Sunak pledges further action on strikes to 'protect lives'
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.
Double standards: UK lawmakers attack EU chief over Ireland claims
Yellen hints at ‘national security’ probe into Twitter purchase
Elon Musk reinstates Donald Trump's Twitter account.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama will hold back-to-back disinformation conferences
Mission Improbable: Tom Cruise & Queen Elizabeth
Miss Argentina and Miss Puerto Rico are not single anymore
Matt Hancock is back to the jungle