Twitter’s new photo authorization policy was intended to fight online abuse, but campaigners and researchers in the United States warned Friday that it has been used by far-right supporters to shield themselves from scrutiny and harass opponents.

Even Twitter recognised that false reports and its own problems hampered the deployment of the regulations, which state that anybody can ask Twitter to remove photographs of themselves posted without their consent.

It was exactly the kind of problem that anti-racism activists feared would follow the policy’s announcement this week.

Anti-extremism researcher Kristofer Goldsmith swiftly confirmed their fears, tweeting a screenshot of a far-right call-to-action circulating on Telegram: “Things are suddenly surprisingly working in our favour thanks to Twitter’s revised privacy policy.”

“Anyone with a Twitter account should report doxxing postings from the following accounts,” the letter stated, listing dozens of Twitter handles.

Gwen Snyder, a Philadelphia organiser and researcher, said her Twitter account was restricted this week after she reported a series of 2019 images she claimed showed a local political candidate at a Proud Boys-organized march.

Rather of filing a Twitter appeal, she chose to delete the photographs and inform others of the situation.

“Twitter’s decision to remove (my) work from their platform is extremely dangerous, as it will empower and assist Nazis,” she told AFP.

“Sharing personal media, such as photographs or videos, can potentially breach a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm,” Twitter said in unveiling the privacy policy on Tuesday.

However, “public figures or persons when media and accompanying Tweets are posted in the public interest or contribute value to public dialogue” are exempt from the guidelines.

“We became aware of a considerable volume of coordinated and malicious complaints, and unfortunately, our enforcement staff made some errors,” Twitter wrote on Friday.

“We’ve fixed those problems and are doing an internal investigation to ensure that this policy is being implemented as intended,” the company noted.

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