Turns out far-right extremists have been abusing it to remove images of themselves attending hate rallies.
In a blog post accompanying the policy update, Twitter outlined that the new ‘Private Media’ amendment was put in place to “curb the misuse of media to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of private individuals.” This kind of content has historically disproportionately affected activists and members of marginalised groups.
Which makes it sickeningly ironic that a health group of people responsible for this kind of harassment has co-opted the new policy to save their own skin. The Washington Post reports that groups of Neo-Nazis and far-right activists organised via apps like Telegram coordinated strikes against anti-extremist accounts that document and keep tabs on individuals spotted at hate rallies like the infamous Charlottesville white-supremacist rally.
By mass-flagging activist accounts and citing the policy that protects individuals from having their private information exposed, extremists were able to dupe Twitter into suspending these accounts. A spokesperson for the microblogging platform told The Verge that it was aware of “a significant amount of coordinated and malicious reports” that had, unfortunately, resulted in action against innocent accounts.
Twitter has since rectified these suspensions and is apparently firming up the new policy to ensure that it can’t be exploited in this way again.