Twitter has announced an update and change in its “hacking material” policy after its controversial decision to block links to a New York story about Joe Biden’s son. The social networking service said that it will no longer remove hacked content unless and until it is directly shared by hackers or cyberpunk or those “acting in concert with them”.
However, Twitter has said instead of blocking such content or links from being shared on its services, it says it will label tweets to ‘provide context’.
On Thursday night, Twitter executive and safety lead Vijaya Gadde said in a tweet that the platform is making the changes “to address the concernment that there could be many unintended repercussion to journalists, whistle-blowers, and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter’s purpose of serving the public conversation”. She added by saying that the hacked material policy was first introduced, in 2018; the platform had fewer tools for policy enforcement than it does now.
The company has recently added new product capabilities, such as labels to provide people with additional context and the platform is therefore no longer limited to tweet removal as an enforcement action.
The decision by the platform to restrict sharing of the Post article attracted deliberately cruel or vicious criticism from high profile republican voices with the likes of Senator Josh Hawley tweeting that the Twitter is “now censoring journalists”.
These updates hacking material policy should, however, provide a framework where Twitter’s policies still target hackers who seek to share stolen materials but should open the door for reporting about leaks.
Additionally, the New York Times article itself will continue to be blocked as it contains links to personal information and email address that are still interdicted under Twitter’s personal information policy.
Lastly, the Twitter ‘hacking material’ policy will be updated in the coming days, according to Vijaya Gadde.