Twitter bans posting photos of private individuals without their consent

It really is all about consent.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Dec 18, 2021

Twitter’s latest ban was made in response to “increasing concerns about the abuse of media and information not available elsewhere online as a tool to harass, threaten, and reveal the identity of individuals,” according to the company. The company recently announced that “the sharing of private media, such as photographs or videos of private individuals without their authorization” will no longer be permitted. The change takes effect as a result of the social media platform’s private information and media policy being expanded.


What this means

In practice, this implies that images and videos can be removed if the photographer did not get agreement from those who were photographed before sharing them on Twitter. Individuals who discover their image has been shared online without their permission can report the post, and Twitter will decide whether or not it should be removed.


While the move indicates a movement toward stronger protection of individual privacy, implementation and enforcement concerns remain unanswered.


Twitter’s policy change is a practical approach that gives people more control over how their images are utilized. This could be beneficial to the Twitter-identified groups, such as women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority populations, especially in terms of safety.


It may also be beneficial to youngsters who are subjected to “sharenting,” or having their photographs shared online by their parents at various stages of their lives. In principle, once these children are old enough to comprehend how, they will be able to report these photos.



Understandably, the shift has created considerable anxiety, especially among photographers. Big Brother Watch, a civil liberties organization, has criticized the policy as “overly broad,” claiming that it will lead to online censorship.


It’s vital to stress that this isn’t a blanket prohibition on personal photographs. Images or videos of people participating in public events (such as huge protests or sporting events) are generally not considered to be in violation of Twitter’s rules, according to the company.


They also point out that there are some exceptions, such as when the photograph is newsworthy, in the public interest, or the subject is a public figure. However, more clarity on how the public interest will be construed would be beneficial. Similarly, it is unclear how this legislation would affect the media.


There are a number of concerns that need to be resolved. However, this policy adjustment has the potential to preserve individual privacy and promote a more thoughtful approach to image sharing in the long-run.


In other news, Twitter will warn you about the vibes of a discussion.


Photo via Electronic Frontier Foundation