SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Twitter announced this week its commitment to deal with images of the deceased as requested by their family.
The move comes a week after Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda was harassed with fake, but graphic photos of her deceased father, forcing her to abandon the social network all together.
The San Francisco-based company is now jumping on any photos of the horrific ISIS beheading of American journalist James Foley, going so far to even suspend accounts circulating the imagery.
“In order to respect the wishes of loved ones, Twitter will remove imagery of deceased individuals in certain circumstances,” the company posted in a statement detailing the new policy. “Immediate family members and other authorized individuals may request the removal of images or video of deceased individuals, from when critical injury occurs to the moments before or after death.”
Twitter is reviewing media removal requests emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. But it may not be an easy process for families. The family or estate will have to provide a copy of the death certificate and government ID and wait for the review process.
The company says public interest factors such as the newsworthiness of the content are considered and not every request may be honored.
Shortly after the Islamic militant group posted video of Foley’s beheading on YouTube, stills of his body began started showing up in Twitter. The new service that let’s Twitter users preview the photo in their stream made it impossible to avoid some of the photos.
The Washington Post reported the incident prompted Twitter users to ask followers to refrain from tweeting images of Foley’s death with the hashtag #ISISMediaBlackout.
Meanwhile, an expansion of a law would allow family member’s to access their deceased relative’s social media accounts. Currently five states, including Virginia, have passed a law allowing parents access to digital accounts if their child dies.