No More Open Platform for World Leaders’ Offensive Comments on Twitter

Twitter has a strict code of conduct when it comes to abusive and bullying behaviours… or so they say.

People have often wondered why political leaders—Trump in particular—do not have their content taken down when their tweets appear to violate Twitter’s code of conduct.

In their hateful conduct policy, Twitter states “You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people” based on a variety of identifiers. Trump has been known to tweet racist and sexist comments often, but his tweets are never taken down.

Now though, Twitter is done letting world leaders have a free pass at spewing abusive messages on their platform.

The social media giants have announced that they will be labelling and flagging content posted by government officials, representatives, and those running for public office or waiting to be confirmed as an official, that display abusive text. The notices will also only appear on those verified accounts with more than 100,000 followers.

After they made this announcement, Twitter’s shares dropped 1.4%.

Many believe the new rules are a direct result of Trump’s tweets, although Twitter’s announcement of the new regulations, made on this blog post, makes no direct reference to the American president.

Following the news of these new regulations though, Trump was quick to lash out. In an interview with Fox, he voiced his belief that Twitter is biased and trying to silence him.

Despite their decision to label though, Twitter remains firm in their decision to not remove offensive tweets made by government officials. They say that they do not want to limit discussion around the tweets nor the ability of users to respond to and debate what government officials say.

Therefore, their decision is to leave the offending messages up but behind a notice through which the user must tap to get to the text. The notice will provide context and clarity about the contents of the tweet.

Twitter also says they will not unfairly elevate the status of the tweet by labelling it. In addition, the tweet will not appear in safe search, explore, the notifications tab, or at the top of a newsfeed when it is sorting by top tweets.

When Twitter comes across a government official’s tweet containing content that goes against Twitter’s codes of conduct, they will determine whether or not to keep the tweet based on its benefit to the public interest and how abusive it is. They will make these decisions based on:

  • Potential harm.
  • If preserving the statement will allow people to hold the writer accountable.
  • If there are more sources of information about the contents of the tweet to make sure people are informed.
  • If removing the tweet will hide context or prevent understanding about a public issue.
  • If the statement provides a unique perspective unobtainable elsewhere.

The people making these decisions will come from many departments, including Twitter’s trust and safety and public policy teams, as well as their legal and regional teams.