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Equality institute takes legal action against Twitter

Belgium Institute for Equality between Women and Men (IGVM) is taking legal action against the social media platform Twitter after it refused to remove naked image of a woman that had been posted and were being retweeted without her permission. Since 1 July this year the Institute for equality between men and women has been able to offer assistance to people that have been the victims of intimate image of themselves being distributed without their permission. 

A while ago a woman contacted IGVM to report that images of herself had been posted on Twitter without her permission. IVGM demanded that Twitter remove the photographs. However, the social media platform refused thus breaking Belgian law. In Belgium it is illegal to distribute intimate images of someone without their permission.

IVGM also uncovered issues with Twitter's procedures regarding the removal of material such as intimate images. IVGM Assistant-Director Liesbet Stevens told journalists “Sometimes Twitter only removes the images months after a request has been made. Victims are asked to provide personal information. By doing this Twitter discourages the speedy removal of these images”.  

Ms Stevens added that "The step we are taking isn’t being taken lightly”.

Although IVGM strives for close cooperation with social media, it will where necessary “not refrain from taking legal action when victims are left out in the cold”.

"In the first instance we tackle those that are spreading the images. However, social media should also take responsibility and not scare off victims. Because this is exactly what Twitter is doing”, Ms Steven concluded. 

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