Twitter to crack down on altered photos and videos

Béibhinn Thorsch

Twitter will be taking harsher action on manipulated photos and videos by labelling or removing content they deem as misleading.

Twitter stated in a blog post that it will make a number of assessments of the media included with a tweet. For example, if it’s been considerably altered or fabricated to mislead, or shared in a misleading method. 

From March 5th, in these instances, the content is likely to be labelled as manipulated, and link to a Twitter Moment that provides more context. However, if the tweet is likely to impact public safety or cause serious harm, it will be removed. 

Modified subtitles or a voiceover count as manipulation of content, but an inaccurate caption may not. Photographs not captioned correctly, such as falsely stating someone is part of a certain political party, are one of Twitter’s biggest misinformation vectors.

Twitter also said in their blog post: “You may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm,”

“In addition, we may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand the media’s authenticity and to provide additional context.” they said.

Many of these misleading posts are of US politicians, such as a video of Nancy Pelosi which was slowed down in order to make her look drunk. 

Deepfake technology, a form of artificial intelligence that involves the creation of fabricated content that appears to be real, is also growing in popularity. Though most often used for non-consensual pornographic content, Twitter said there was cause for concern towards the wider use of the technology. 

Dr John Danaher of NUIG Law School, expressed concern about the harm this technology can cause in society when speaking to the Journal.ie last November.

“The highly realistic nature of the audiovisual material created makes this the ideal vehicle for harassment, manipulation or fraud,” Danaher said. He added that the technology can be “weaponised to harm and intimate others, particularly members of vulnerable populations.”

The Irish Government has previously approved proposed legislation aimed at tackling the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill provides for a six-month prison sentence upon conviction.

Twitter head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, said, “Our goal in making these assessments is to understand whether someone on Twitter who is just scrolling through their timeline has enough information to understand whether the media being shared in a tweet is or isn’t what it claims to be.”

This is the latest in a series of crackdowns, as last November Twitter banned political advertisements.

Béibhinn Thorsch

Image Credit: Sonja Tutty