Alissa Portillo

Opinions Editor


We already have seen the videos that surfaced on our timelines on the deaths of the victims from the Buffalo Shooting that occurred in May of 2022 from the perspective of the shooter and the video of 14-year-old Tyre Sampson at Orlando’s ICON Park. Videos also surfaced on the graphic scene deaths of celebrities like Paul Walker and rappers like Drakeo the Ruler in 2021, PnB Rock in 2022, and Nipsey Hussle in 2019. Graphic videos showing deceased people continue to be shown on Twitter’s timeline. 

According to Business of Apps, “Twitter is a real-time microblogging platform, publicly launched in July 2006. At launch, its defining features were the tight limits placed on each post, known as a tweet.” A tweet can be seen as a message to one’s timeline for others to see except it has limited characters meaning it cannot be lengthy. But, tweet features also consist of posting photos or videos so, simultaneously one can choose to upload a video for a minute or longer while adding a description of the video. Now, importantly what one tweets–or publishes to put into simpler terms–others can retweet, like, and comment on. The retweeting portion of the original tweet is what allows these tweets to be retweeted by thousands of people and can create a chain of trends within the timeline. Specifically, as a user, you will see what other people you follow are retweeting as well. So, most of the time the most tweeted topics or retweeted tweets will be trending on Twitter’s feed overall, but will also be found on your timeline. 

As of 2022, The Small Business Blog, expressed there are roughly 192 million people who are using Twitter every day and 426 million people use Twitter every month. This means that there are roughly 192 million users thus far in 2022 according to the article. Not just this, but the App Store on Apple smartphones also shows that Twitter is ranked as #1 under News. Shockingly, Twitter is referenced as an app to receive News, which although true in many ways, it discredits that Twitter is also used for entertainment like many other social media platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok. This entertainment can be beneficial when it comes to reading funny memes and catching up on daily News, but it does not shine a light on the hidden world of uncensored entertainment via videos and images. 

As I have mentioned, users have uploaded graphic videos of ways people have been killed via Twitter. Not to mention this includes entertainment videos like pornographic marketing as well, but that is another argument to be made. For the sake of this piece, I am focusing on Twitter’s failure to incorporate better censoring policies concerning videos being posted that show graphic scenes of ways people died. 

Regarding policies, Twitter does indeed have a Sensitive Media Policy which states, “You may not post media that is excessively gory or share violent or adult content within live video or in profile header, List or Community banner images. Media depicting sexual violence and/or assault is also not permitted.” This is straightforward, but Twitter is claiming that these forms of media are not allowed in any case. Yet, Twitter offers an option to display media that may contain sensitive content. This option can be found in a user’s settings under Privacy and Saftey then under Content You See. A user has the option to allow or reject Sensitive media from being displayed in their timeline, however, this is the problem itself. There should not be an option altogether for this if Twitter claims it is firmly not allowed on the platform. 

It is contradictory to Twitter’s initial claims of not prohibiting these media forms to then have Twitter state, “You can share graphic violence and consensually produced adult content within your Tweets, provided that you mark this media as sensitive.” This allows the same issue to continue further by allowing some form of media to be posted that can be graphic and unnecessarily called for in users’ timelines. Ideally, Twitter is saying; a user cannot post media that is sensitive to the graphic scenes, but so long as you input it is sensitive then it is okay. The hypocrisy of this enforcement of policies is unjustifiable for the spread of harmful graphic violence of the deaths of not just public figures but for the victims who pass. As Persuasion expressed, “Twitter is where breaking news spreads fastest and where much of the news cycle is made”. But, I want to add to this quote by saying that Twitter allows breaking news to spread the fastest, and if it means videos are captured at death scenes then the videos will spread just as quickly as breaking news. 

Twitter’s Sensitive Media Policy is not enough to put an end to the spread of horrendous death scenes. Allowing an optional setting for viewing or publishing sensitive media only reinforces the opposing claim Twitter has made to prohibit uncalled-for content. Failure to maintain the said claim of prohibition may be damaging to the families, friends, and people who are involved with victims who have since passed. Since Twitter is the most used platform to spread news, we should not disregard the possibility that victims’ families and friends may see these gruesome death scenes without knowing firsthand that a death has occurred. Twitter allows these videos and images to be posted and may cause further damage and this needs to be put to an end now. 

Students can do their part by reporting these types of videos or imagery that they come across on their Twitter timelines. A report can be done both on the Twitter app and desktop. To report insensitive media on the app; Select Report Tweet from the icon. > Select It displays a sensitive photo or video. > Select the relevant option depending on what you are reporting. On a desktop, you can report by; Selecting Report Tweet from the icon. > Select It displays a sensitive photo or video. > Select the relevant option depending on what you are reporting. 

A report seems small, but if enough users report Twitter should have no reason not to look into the reported video or image that was posted. According to Twitter, “[a]ccounts dedicated to posting sensitive media – your account may be permanently suspended if the majority of your activity on Twitter is sharing sensitive media.” Although Twitter has these consequential measures it is not in the hands of reporters to fix what Twitter needs to strengthen by ending the publishing of insensitive media online in the first place.

Featured Image Courtesy of  Twitter

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