So says Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter. The link goes to this New York Times article about the beheading of photojournalist James Foley. We quickly perused Twitter’s rules and did not see any blanket prohibitions on the posting of violent or offensive images.
Here is Twitter’s “Abusive behavior policy”:
Users are allowed to post content, including potentially inflammatory content, provided they do not violate the Twitter Rules and Terms of Service. Twitter 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.
Here is Twitter’s “media policy”:
Our goal is to provide a service that allows you to discover and receive content from sources that interest you as well as to easily share your content with others. We also want you to understand our guidelines for making sure your content is labeled appropriately.
For the most part, using common sense won’t steer you wrong. If you upload media that might be considered sensitive content such as nudity, violence, or medical procedures, you should consider applying the account setting “Mark my media as containing sensitive content”.
We do not mediate content, whether that content is an image or text; however, some content is not permissible by law. All content should be marked appropriately as per our guidelines. You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. International users agree to comply with all local laws regarding online conduct and acceptable content.
Uploaded images that are reported and that are determined to violate the law will be removed from the site and your account will be suspended. Please review the Twitter Rules for more information on these violations.
Images that have been marked as containing sensitive content will have a warning message that a viewer must click through before viewing the image. Only users who have opted in to see possibly sensitive content will see these images without the warning message. Check out this article for more information on settings and best practices.
So Twitter doesn’t screen or mediate content, but sensitive content should be marked as such. Yet Costolo, in his tweet, didn’t indicate an exemption for beheading images marked sensitive.
As a private entity, Twitter has the right to make whatever rules it wishes, but the rules should be transparent — and those who make a good faith effort to follow them should not be banned. Perhaps an update to the rules is in order in light of Costolo’s announcement.