Twitter Adds Options for Sharing Personal Information
Twitter recently announced some additional options which will allow the platform to move faster when responding to incidents where personal privacy has been violated. The new options allow you to specify the type of personal information which is being shared within any of your tweets. The faster response will be enabled by having a better understanding of the kind of personal information which is included in the tweet being shared.
Anytime a user reports a tweet that shares some kind of private information, they will be directed to a listing which prompts them to designate the kind of personal information included. Some of the various types of personal information are financial information (credit card data), physical location, home address, government issued ID (SSN), or other kinds of contact information.
Why the upgrades are necessary
Having the capability of providing such detailed information will allow users to easily and precisely report any kind of security issue, and it will also help Twitter’s security team gain an understanding of the problem more quickly. Twitter rolled out a similar option for spam tweets in 2018, for the same general reason, which is to allow them to respond more quickly when users reported spamming incidents. What is not yet clear is the kind of reaction this will trigger on the part of Twitter personnel, and how they will support users, based on the information they receive from user reports.
Potential Twitter responses
It is entirely possible that Twitter could assign a higher priority to some categories of personal information violations. For instance, it would seem that violations in the area of financial information would be more harmful to a user, and might, therefore, call for more immediate attention, and perhaps a stronger response as well.
It does not seem likely that Twitter would announce such a prioritization scheme, however since that would probably result in users specifying everything as a financial issue, just so it got faster attention and a stronger response from the platform. The fact that this categorization of personal information violations has been announced at all would lead you to believe that the faster response anticipated by the platform would be directly related to the category of violation. There may be other possibilities, but it seems as though the faster response being touted by Twitter is likely to be closely associated with the type of security information violation which was carried out.
Twitter has been engaged in an ongoing struggle to maintain an appropriate balance between freedom of speech and policing tweets used on the platform, so it’s considered a positive move that the company continues to provide new tools that will address issues still encountered on the platform. In October of last year, Twitter provided a similar tool which allowed for more granular options when reporting fake accounts or bots, but it still isn’t clear what Twitter does with this information when it’s received.
It’s possible that tweets with specific security violations of personal information will be taken down, and the violator will be somehow penalized, although nothing at all has been said about this. The only thing which currently happens in this general area is that Twitter indicates on the platform when it has removed tweets which were in violation of the platform’s rules and policies.
The actual Twitter Rule
The specific rule which is being violated in this case is as follows, “You may not publish or post other people’s private information without their express authorization and permission. Definitions of private information may vary depending on local laws.” The intent of this policy, of course, is to prevent someone from posting private information of another individual because it can result in security or safety risks for the user whose information is being tweeted out.
This is considered to be one of the most serious violations of the general Twitter Rules which all users must agree to comply with when establishing an account on the platform. It’s easy to see the kind of damage that could result to a user if that person’s credit card information or Social Security number were to be shared with others, and to a lesser extent home addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses could cause similar damage. Of course, it’s not exactly the best policy for someone to be tweeting their credit card information or Social Security number on the platform in the first place, but that is more of an error in judgment and not a violation of Twitter Rules.
It is not considered private and personal information when data such as the company you work for, the school you are educated, business addresses, birth date or age, name, or description of physical appearance is tweeted. It’s also worth noting that not all tweets containing personal information would constitute violations of Twitter’s Rules.
For instance, if such information as a phone number or a Social Security number was previously posted elsewhere on the Internet, that would be considered by Twitter, and may not constitute a violation of its own policy. On the other hand, if personal information of a certain individual is shared with others for the purpose of harassing that individual, Twitter’s approach is that it reserves the right to undertake some kind of disciplinary action under its abusive behavior policy.
There are times of course, when Twitter users may genuinely desire to share certain personal information with the public, for instance when networking professionally, to coordinate special events, or to seek assistance in the aftermath of a natural disaster. In such cases, Twitter has stated that it may choose to contact and interview the person tweeting the information so it can determine the intent of the tweet.
Twitter’s stated policy for violators of the personal information policy call for removing the offensive tweet, and then to have the user locked out of their account temporarily because of the violation. When a person violates the shared personal information policy more than once, Twitter reserves the right to suspend the individual and their accounts for a period deemed appropriate by platform officials.
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