Twitter said its ready to come down hard on abusive tweets including those from politicians and world leaders that break its rules but which it decides to keep on its platform.
Twitter on Thursday said it will immediately start flagging tweets from influential government officials (including President Donald Trump) that violate its rules against bullying and abusive behavior. Trump is well-known for his wide use and at times, abuse of Twitter.
For years, critics of Trump’s tweeting have blasted Twitter for its stubborn refusal to remove tweets from Trump that appear to violate its content policies. Twitter’s new rule will apply to verified government officials, representatives or candidates for a government position that have more than 100,000 followers.
Explaining its controversial move in a blog post, Twitter said it will place a notice or a disclaimer over tweets violating its standards but which it still sees as having some “public interest value.” This added layer means users will have to click through the notice to view the original tweet.
The notice will include a link to more information and will read, “The Twitter Rules about abusive behavior apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.”
Twitter said it will also make it harder for messages such as these from spreading. It will also prevent these tweets from becoming “algorithmically elevated,” or more popular.
Sometimes, we decide that it may be in the public’s interest for certain Tweets to remain on Twitter, even if they would otherwise break our rules. We're going to start using a new notice to make it clear when we make these decisions. Read more:https://t.co/XqlJ9KHgir
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) June 27, 2019
Which tweets fall under this new policy will be determined by Twitter’s trust and safety, legal, public policy and regional teams. The teams’ decision will be based on factors such as the “immediacy and severity of potential harm from the rule violation.”
Reddit has a similar system in place.
The new policy is a marked departure from Twitter’s previous hands-off policy in tweets by abusive government leaders.
“Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” Twitter said in January 2018. “It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.
We review Tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly.”
Trump, however, has consistently attacked Twitter for what he sees is a bias against him.
“Twitter is just terrible, what they do. They don’t let you get the word out,” Trump told Fox News.