Twitter Takes Action Against Revenge Porn

Earlier this month Twitter updated its use policy to specifically ban revenge porn.   Revenge porn is a dastardly practice where a person (typically a man, but not always) posts intimate photos of their former partner (typically a woman, but not always) on a public website.   Revenge porn is extremely difficult to criminalize because the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause largely prevents states from regulating the Internet and the First Amendment generally prevents state or federal government from regulating what people post online.

Twitter, which as a private enterprise is not bound by the Commerce Clause or First Amendment, has changed its use policy to make it easier to report and remove revenge porn.  Under the new policy, a victim can report to Twitter that an offensive photo has been posted without the victim’s consent.  Thereafter, Twitter’s Trust & Safety Team will investigate the report.  If Twitter determines the reported content features the victim and was posted without the victim’s consent, the content will be hidden from public view and the user who posted it will have their account locked until they delete the offending content.  If Twitter determines the offending content was posted with “intent to harass”, the user who posted it will be suspended from Twitter.

Twitter’s effort to stop revenge porn should be commended.  Because of the difficulty and expense of using the legal system to prevent revenge porn, private efforts like Twitter’s are usually the best option that victims have.

BuzzFeed broke this story and its entire Q&A with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo regarding the updated use policy can be found here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/charliewarzel/twitter-tackles-revenge-porn#.esN9OO6GL.

 Article written by Michael Keenan, associate attorney with Hinman, Howard & Kattell, LLP.  Mr. Keenan can be contacted directly at mkeenan@hhk.com or via telephone at 607-723-5341.

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