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Twitter changes policy on pirated materials following New York Post controversy – TechCrunch




Twitter announced an update to its pirated materials policy – say that it will no longer remove pirated content unless it is directly shared by pirates or those “acting in concert with them”.

Instead of blocking such content / links from being shared on his service, he says he will tag tweets to “provide context.”

Twitter’s broader rules against posting private information, synthetic and manipulated media, and non-consensual nudity still apply – so it can still, for example, remove links to pirated material if the content to which the link is linked is bound to violate other policies. But simply tweeting a link to pirated documents is no longer automatic removal.

This decision follows the company’s decision to restrict the sharing of a New York Post this week’s article – which included allegations that laptop hardware left in a repair shop contained emails and other data belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of US presidential candidate Joe Biden .

Twitter’s decision to restrict sharing of the Post’s article drew vicious criticism from high-profile Republican voices – along with Senator Josh Hawley. Tweeter that the company is now “censoring journalists”.

Twitter’s policy on pirated materials explicitly allows “to report a hack or share media coverage of the hack”, but the company clarified later that he acted because the Post article contained “personal and private information – like email addresses and phone numbers – that violate our rules.” (Additionally, the post did not mention a hack; rather, it claimed the discovery of an email cache and the emails themselves.)

At the same time, the Post article itself is very controversial. The scenario that the data got into the hands of a random laptop repair shop, which then chose to hand it over to a key Trump ally, extends its credibility. the punches of a disoperation operation targeting the elections, as we explained on Wednesday.

Given questions about the quality of the Post’s fact-checking and journalistic standards in this case, Twitter’s decision to restrict sharing of the article actually appears to have helped reduce the spread of disinformation – even if it did. drew criticism towards the company for censoring ‘journalism’. .

(He also has since emerged that the hard drive in question was manufactured shortly before the laptop was reported to have been dropped off at the store. Therefore the most likely scenario Hunter Biden’s iCloud has been hacked and spoofed emails planted on disk where data could be “ discovered ” and leaked to the press in a clumsy attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election. But Twitter is clearly uncomfortable that the application of its policies has led to accusations of censorship of journalists.)

In a tweet explaining the change in her policy, Twitter’s legal, policy and trust and security manager Vijaya Gadde wrote: “We want to address concerns that there could be many unintended consequences for journalists, whistleblowers and the like, in a way that flies in the face of Twitters’ goal of serving public conversation. “

She also notes that when the Pirated Materials Policy was first introduced in 2018, Twitter had fewer tools to enforce the policy than it does today, stating, “We recently added new product features, such as labels to provide people with additional context. We are no longer limited to removing tweets as a coercive measure. “

Twitter began adding contextual tags to tweets violating US President Donald Trump’s policies earlier this year, rather than deleting his tweets entirely. He continued to develop the use of these contextual signals – for example by adding fact-checking tags to some conspiracy theory tweets – by giving himself an application tool “ more talk to counter bad talk. in relation to the blunt instrument of tweet withdrawals / account bans (which it also recently applied to the toxic conspiracy theory group, QAnon).

“We believe that tagging Tweets and allowing people to rate content for themselves better serves the public interest and the public conversation. The Pirated Material Policy is being updated to reflect these new enforcement capabilities, ”Gadde also says, adding:“ Moderation of content is incredibly difficult, especially in the critical context of an election. We try to act responsibly and quickly to avoid damage, but we were still learning along the way. “

The updated policy is clearly not a free policy, as all of Twitter’s other rules against pirated material apply (such as doxxing). While there is a question whether tweets related to the Post’s article would still be deleted as part of the updated policy if the article did contain personal information (which remains against the policy of Twitter).

At the same time, the new “ third way ” policy for pirated documents leaves Twitter’s platform to be a vehicle for the spread of political disinformation (just with a little contextual friction) – in cases where it does. has been credulously whitewashed by the press. (Although Twitter may rightly point the finger at the blame for poor journalist standards at this point.)

The new policy also raises the question of how Twitter will determine if a person is working “in concert” with hackers? I’m just spitting here, but if – let’s say – on the eve of the poll Trump shared some very questionable information that tarnished his main political rival and that he said was handed over by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Twitter would step in and the would remove?

We can only hope that we don’t have to find out.

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