Tweet a graphic image relating to a video allegedly showing the beheading of photojournalist James Wright Foley and risk having your account suspended. The word comes from Twitter CEO Dick Costolo who announced the company’s actions in a tweet on Wednesday morning, several hours after the shocking video appeared on YouTube and suddenly went viral.
Costolo also noted that Twitter has already deleted accounts that shared the images.
This action comes as Twitter users called for a solution to the graphic images suddenly appearing in feeds. Twitter and YouTube users have also called for a media blackout of the beheading video and images, attempting to not give the group behind the horrific act the attention they crave.
We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you https://t.co/jaYQBKVbBF
— dick costolo (@dickc) August 20, 2014
Even though it’s the right thing to do, Twitter’s right to remove the content and suspend accounts seems to exist in a gray area within the social network’s rules and terms of service.
Twitter notes in its Abusive Behavior Policy that it “does not screen content and does not remove potentially offensive content unless such content is in violation of the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service.” It also notes: ” Users may not make direct, specific threats of violence against others, including threats against a person or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, age, or disability. Targeted abuse or harassment is also a violation of the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service.”
Yet in section four of its Terms of Service, titled Content on the Services, it also notes that “you may be exposed to Content that might be offensive, harmful, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate, or in some cases, postings that have been mislabeled or are otherwise deceptive.”
Still, even if it’s not specifically mentioned in Twitter’s Rules or Terms of Service, the removal (dare I say censorship?) of the images is the right thing to do.