Naturally, though, there are exceptions to the rules, and quite a lot of gray area that still needs to be figured out. The policy understandably does not extend to photos or videos of public figures, although the definition of who constitutes a “public figure” is hazy. Twitter says it will also allow images to remain if they “are shared in the public interest or add value to public discourse,” which is an extremely vague way of saying that the policy doesn’t apply to newsworthy content. The obvious question, of course, is who the ultimate arbiter becomes in deciding what is and isn’t newsworthy, and when these policies should and shouldn’t be applied.
In particular, one has to wonder how the changes to the policy may affect breaking news as it occurs on Twitter, which is so often in the form of photos and videos taken via bystanders on the ground level. How might a video such as the police arrest and death of George Floyd be impacted by this sort of change the policy? Would the video be removed for the fact that it lacks the permission of those involved on screen? Or would that video “add value to public discourse,” and who makes the call? Much more information will likely be needed to determine whether such a change of policy is beneficial to Twitter’s users.