I was fist pumping wildly while listening to NPR on my drive to work this morning; not a daily occurance.
Any picture or video of an “intimate nature” (this is sexts/naked pictures, for those without patience for euphemisms) that is posted without the consent of the person in the picture is now off-limits. Here are the action steps:
- If you see a picture of you, you submit a complaint to Twitter.
- A team confirms it’s you in the picture (they say you “verify it’s you” not sure what that really means)
- Picture is blocked from public view
- The person who posted it has their account locked
- They now have the opportunity to prove you consented to have your naked form plastered around the internet
- If no proof of consent is found, the picture is removed permanently, the account is suspended permanently
I was also yelling YES! because this applies not only to boobies pictures, but also personal information (birth certificates, addresses, driver’s licenses etc) posted without your consent.
Is this a perfect solution? Absolutely not. But it’s important for a couple reasons.
First, I count this as a victory of feminist activism. Revenge porn (when someone, usually an ex, posts private, intimate content without consent, generally to punish and shame) and doxxing (when personal information about someone who disagrees with you is posted online, and/or other really, really scary shit is done to intimidate and harass) has been the subject of countless essays, thought pieces, book chapters and online fights. I’m SO GLAD it’s had an impact! A company is actually having to change it’s policies. It doesn’t matter (well, it does, but keep positive) that Twitter was dragging its feet and that this is an imperfect solution. Now Reddit looks to be following suit. This is a good step.
Second, it acknowledges these posts as real harassment that has a real effect on the (usually women) people who have their information posted. On the radio, a domestic violence activist reminded listeners how compromising pictures/information can be used as a form of power and control, intimidation, and emotional abuse. Maybe those in power positions will think twice before attacking on all fronts. Maybe it will encourage a bit of self-control. We can dream, yes?
Third, this is a step toward encouraging respect online. It’s super easy (and psychologically inevitable) to be an asshole when you’re anonymous. Now, maybe we can see a bit more accountability, some more understanding that these are actual people, actual women (and men) who have real lives and see real effects from online abuse. Empathy, anyone?
Okay, no policy or rule or law will ever stop hateful behavior; only speech, time, understanding and empathy can do that. But it’s a start.