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?
To us, one thing is clear — in the absence of clear and publicly available guidelines and definitions, we believe that this policy will continue to be misused against journalists and members of civil society.
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.
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)
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
Women’s Media Center
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)
Freelance Investigative Reporters & Editors (FIRE)
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)
Online News Association (ONA)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Courtney Radsch, Media and Tech Policy Strategist
Vita Activa Org