Twitter bans revenge porn and threats of violence from its social network

12 Mar 2015

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Twitter has made changes to its terms of service that expressly prohibit the posting of revenge porn or other non-consensual, intimate photos, as well as threats of violence and other forms of harassment.

The move comes just weeks after Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said enough was enough and it was time to tackle the trolls for once and for all.

Last night Twitter updated its terms and conditions to expressly prohibit revenge porn or nude pictures without the subject’s consent.

In the new terms Twitter said that along with private or confidential information such as credit card numbers or street addresses: “You may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.”

Twitter also modified its abusive behaviour policy and said: “Users may not make direct, specific threats of violence against others, including threats against a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability. In addition, users may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.”

Trolls and revenge porn, the scourge of our digital age

The move comes just weeks after Costolo said it was time to slay th trolls. Abusive behaviour by trolls reached fever pitch in recent months the case of the #gamergate controversy, for example, that saw trolls reveal private information about people as well as threaten rape and taunt suicide.

“We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” Costolo said.

“It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day. We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.

“I’m frankly ashamed of how poorly we’ve dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It’s absurd. There’s no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It’s nobody else’s fault but mine, and it’s embarrassing.

“We’re going to start kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them.”

As well as the nasty abuse meted out by trolls hiding behind keyboards and internet connections, revenge porn has become a scourge of our digital age where intimate photos and videos have been used to bully, embarrass, undermine and coerce others. In the past year governments have been moving to crack down on this crime and in the UK people guilty of posting revenge porn could face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty of the practice.

In recent weeks the internet’s biggest message board Reddit moved to prohibit the posting of nude photos or videos of sex acts without the permission of people in the pictures or videos.

However, a similar effort by Google backfired when it was forced to do a U-turn on the banning of nude material on Blogger – rather than banning nudity or sexually explicit material altogether users could mark pages with nudity as private.

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Troll image via Shutterstock

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com