Twitter Censorships Begin: Is Your Account Safe?

LOS ANGELES—Recently Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had a tweetstorm about what Twitter is doing to keep its users safe. As we discovered this included hiding adult content in search unless your settings have been adjusted properly, thus leading many people to believe that they had been shadow banned by Twitter. This week, Twitter has announced the rollout schedule for the upcoming safety policy changes and what exactly those mean. And by exactly, I mean they gave a vague and confusing description.

Safety Updates

Twitter has decided to address the following topics in their upcoming safety update:

*Non-consensual nudity

*Unwanted sexual advances

*Hate symbols and imagery

*Violent groups

*Tweets that glorify violence

All of this sounds fine but what do they really mean by non-consensual nudity? All of us in adult are in full support of consensual nudity. That goes without saying, however, they are making a move to lump consensual content in with non-consensual content. John Starr, head of Twitter's Trust and Safety Council, addressed the topic in an email:

Non-consensual nudity

Current approach - *We treat people who are the original, malicious posters of non-consensual nudity the same as we do people who may unknowingly tweet the content. In both instances, people are required to delete the tweet(s) in question and are temporarily locked out of their accounts. They are permanently suspended if they post non-consensual nudity again.

Updated approach - *We will immediately and permanently suspend any account we identify as the original poster/source of non-consensual nudity and/or if a user makes it clear they are intentionally posting said content to harass their target. We will do a full account review whenever we receive a tweet-level report about non-consensual nudity. If the account appears to be dedicated to posting non-consensual nudity then we will suspend the entire account immediately.

*Our definition of “non-consensual nudity” is expanding to more broadly include content like upskirt imagery, “creep shots,” and hidden camera content. Given that people appearing in this content often do not know the material exists, we will not require a report from a target in order to remove it.

*While we recognize there’s an entire genre of pornography dedicated to this type of content, it’s nearly impossible for us to distinguish when this content may/may not have been produced and distributed consensually. We would rather error on the side of protecting victims and removing this type of content when we become aware of it.

The biggest changes are permanently suspending an account without warning; the content does not need to be reported by a user in order to be removed, and the expansion of the definition of “non-consensual nudity." It is great that they recognize that there is a genre of porn in this niche, but that recognition is useless since they say there is not way for them to distinguish what has been distributed consensually or not. Of course, there are ways they can identify if they wanted to work with our industry. Has Twitter reached out to the industry to ask how they can verify? No, they have not. I have reached out to both John Starr and Jack Dorsey to inquire if they would be interested in working with our industry instead of against it. At this time I have not heard back.

Julia from said, “I am always aware that social media can and will ban questionable material such as I have decided not to use the word upskirt in any of my future updates.” She continues with a worry that many of us have, “The issue I think is my past updates—so many to police—I will also take real care in the photos I am going to use in the future.” 

Twitter has not mentioned if they will be policing older images. They have also not mentioned any other specific keywords other than upskirt leaving what they consider non-consensual nudity up in the air.

Unwanted Sexual Advances

This is also vague. At this time they are relying on participants in a non-consensual conversation to report a conversation, at which point they will take action. However, they said that they are extending this to bystander reporting. This means that people not involved in the conversations will be able to report conversations as an unwanted sexual advance. Twitter says that they make an effort to ascertain the validity of a complaint before taking action, but their slow response in the past begs the question of if they will be over responding in the future?

Twitter will not just be looking at current conversations, they will also be leveraging past interaction signals, aka block, mute and reporting, to determine if this is legitimately unwanted and use that as part of the basis for taking action.  For accounts that like to randomly tag people in their posts of adult content, this could be a problem. Not only might it be construed as spam, now you might be accused of unwanted sexual advances. 

Twitter has said that in the next few weeks they will be further updating what is considered adult content, graphic violence, and hate symbols.

When asked what he thought this meant for the future, Graham said, “Social media will always err on the side of non porn. Now that they have banned certain pornographic posts I believe it will just be a question of time before it all gets banned.” Though Twitter has not officially moved away from showing porn, they are certainly starting to restrict is a lot more, as we saw with hiding accounts in search, and it makes us concerned about their future direction.

The first update regarding non-consensual nudity is being released on October 27. See below for the full schedule of updates.


If you have used #upskirt in your tweets and are concerned about the safety of your account, I recommend you go into your settings—account—and scroll to the bottom where you can request an archive. From there you can do a word search and find your tweets that used the keyword and then remove those tweets. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to do this other than by hand. If you would like help scouring Twitter for keywords and removing tweets contact [email protected] and we can remove the tweets for you.

Twitter poster by Aaron Wood