Joint letter to Parag Agrawal, CEO, Twitter / Re: private information policy

Dear Mr. Agrawal,

We, the undersigned organizations, write to you regarding the recent changes to Twitter’s private information policy, which allows for private media, including images and videos, to be removed if it is posted without the subject’s consent. We welcome efforts to curb harassment and doxxing on your platform, yet we are alarmed by reports of journalists’ Twitter profiles being taken down or reported for sharing content related to their reporting.

We are particularly concerned about the vague language surrounding the new policy. As we have understood, private media that violates the rule but that “adds value to the public discourse or that is of people involved in a large-scale protests, crisis situation or other newsworthy event” will not be removed by Twitter. What does Twitter define as “the public interest,” and how will Twitter determine whether or not images and videos serve the public? Who at Twitter will make these decisions? Finally, how will Twitter address errors in enforcing the policy?

When mechanisms are adopted without careful consideration for how these mechanisms could be used to harm the very people they are intended to protect, they are ultimately used to silence the journalists who work to hold power to account.

We call for greater transparency from Twitter for how these recent changes to the private information policy will be implemented, including answers to the questions we raise above, and for a strengthened appeals and escalation process to recognize that implementation is always flawed. Furthermore, we ask that you consult the groups most affected by online harassment and doxxing in formulating measures to combat the issue of online violence.

For years, press freedom and human rights organizations have been sounding the alarm on online abuse, providing solutions to combat it, and supporting the people targeted by it. It is time that Twitter takes these recommendations seriously, investing the proper time and resources into solutions that will make the platform safer for us all.

Sincerely,

The International Women’s Media Foundation

Women who Tech

Craig Newmark, Craigslist Founder

Global Project Against Hate and Extremism

Audrey Cooper, Editor in Chief, New York Public Radio

Kathy Spillar, executive editor, and Roxanne Szal, digital editor, Ms. magazine

The National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC)

GLAAD

The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ)

Roderick Schrock, Executive Director, Eyebeam

The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Center for Democracy and Technology

Rural Digital Youth Resiliency Project

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists

The Coalition for Women in Journalism (CFWIJ)

Africa Women Journalism Project

Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief, the Forward

Simply Secure

Women’s Media Center

Mnemonic

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)

PEN America

Freelance Investigative Reporters & Editors (FIRE)

ARTICLE 19

Bruce Shapiro, Executive Director, Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Columbia University

The Samir Kassir Foundation

Overseas Press Club of America

Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

Judith Matloff

Online News Association (ONA)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Electronic Privacy Information Center

SMEX

Courtney Radsch, Media and Tech Policy Strategist

Vita Activa Org

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IWMF

The International Women's Media Foundation is a DC-based organization dedicated to strengthening the voice of women worldwide.