Twitter's reluctance to enforce its policies undermines its new guidelines for dealing with revenge porn

Content like this is known as revenge porn, where usually jilted lovers post explicit content of their partners online. The motivation is mostly to malign them and seek sadistic pleasure from the humiliation they receive.

In order to combat the problem of revenge porn on Twitter, the microblogging website has introduced changes to the 'intimate media' section of its community guidelines. It has attached a questionnaire in the page which can be submitted to remove posts with non-consensual nudity on Twitter. Following this, the user who has posted the content would be suspended from Twitter. Those who have shared or distributed the post will be asked to removed the post from their page. The steps that Twitter has taken to tackle this issue are inadequate, however, and conveniently include loopholes for Twitter.

Twitters reluctance to enforce its policies undermines its new guidelines for dealing with revenge porn

Twitter.

Earlier this year, American TV personality and member of the Kardashian family Rob Kardashian had posted explicit photographs of his ex-girlfriend and American model Blac Chyna on Twitter. According to a report by Business Insider, Kardashian had posted the images first on Instagram and then tweeted them out after his Instagram account got suspended. The post was on the microblogging website for thirty minutes. While Instagram had shut his account, BI states that Twitter did not.

Content such as that posted by Kardashian is also known as revenge porn, where jilted lovers (usually) post explicit content of their partners. The motivation is mostly to malign their ex-partners and seek sadistic pleasure from the humiliation their partners then face.

Twitter's stand is to discourage posting of non-consensual explicit content. Twitter's support site says that the following content will be prohibited: "Hidden camera content involving nudity, partial nudity, and/or sexual acts. Images or videos that appear to have been taken secretly and in a way that allows the user to see the other person’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts (content sometimes referred to “creepshots” or “upskirts”). Images or videos captured in a private setting and not intended for public distribution. Images or videos that are considered and treated as private under applicable laws"

The new changes made by the microblogging website received backlash from the media, and rightly so. As per Twitter's new policy, the onus on reporting the post lies on the victim and those who know and care about that victim. Twitter is not actively taking responsibility for anything. Users can, of course, report themselves, but it would take a rare breed of person to do that.

In the case of Rob Kardashian, he is a well known celebrity with a 7.6 million followers and so, his post was likely spotted and reported by enough people for Twitter to take action. Not all victims will have that privilege.

It must also be noted that Twitter's own rules regarding this subject are misleading and create potential loopholes. In its guidelines the company says, "Some forms of consensual nudity and adult content are permitted on Twitter. When we review this type of content, it may not be clear whether it was produced or distributed consensually." It gives leeway to people to circulate such content and it gives Twitter the option to wash its hands off the responsibility.

While this is an issue, the bigger problem is Twitter's reluctance to penalise its biggest stars. Donald Trump and Kardashian are the perfect examples of this. Both these Twitter users have flouted Twitter's community guidelines, but Twitter appears to be wary of taking any action against them.

Content such as revenge porn, if not removed at the nick of time, has the potential to be circulated to other websites. The internet never forgets. Action must be prompt and the punishment for such an act must be severe.

Twitter now intends to suspend the account of the person who posts such content, but will not immediately suspend the account of those that distributed the content. The company will urge the distributors of said content to remove the relevant posts from their page.

It certainly seems like Twitter is attempting the turn a new leaf and focus on its community, but promises are meaningless without action.

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