Twitter Clarifies Rules After Call For Trump Ban

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Platform says not in the public interest to remove politicians’ tweets, after Democrat pressure to ban politicians’ tweets

Twitter has clarified the rules for banning of world leaders using the micro-blogging platform to push their views and opinions.

The clarification comes after the Democrat debate this week, that saw Senator Kamala Harris, a Democratic presidential candidate, call for the suspension of President Donald Trump’s account.

In June this year Twitter had said it would end its uneven enforcement of controversial tweets from politicians that break its internal rules.

Policy clarification

The microblogging platform had said that in the past it had allowed certain “tweets that violated our rules to remain on Twitter because they were in the public’s interest, but it wasn’t clear when and how we made those determinations.”

Going forward however, tweets by world leaders and politicians that break Twitter rules will now be hidden behind a warning notice.

The new policy applies to government officials, anyone running for office, or are being considered for a government position. They have to have more 100,000 followers and a verified Twitter account.

An example of rule breaking tweets from politicians in the past that were allowed to remain online, includes the famous tweet by President Donald Trump, who in September 2017 made his infamous “rocketman” tweet about the North Korean leader.

But now after Democrat pressure to ban Trump’s Twitter account, the platform has issued updated guidance in a new blog post.

“When it comes to the actions of world leaders on Twitter, we recognize that this is largely new ground and unprecedented,” it noted. “We understand the desire for our decisions to be ‘yes/no’ binaries, but it’s not that simple. The actions we take and policies we develop will set precedent around online speech and we owe it to the people we serve to be deliberate and considered in what we do.”

Twitter said that it does “assess reported Tweets from world leaders against the Twitter Rules,” and that it focuses “on the language of reported Tweets and do not attempt to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent.”

“Presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” it said.

“However, if a Tweet from a world leader does violate the Twitter Rules but there is a clear public interest value to keeping the Tweet on the service, we may place it behind a notice that provides context about the violation and allows people to click through should they wish to see the content,” it said.

Public interest

“We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely,” it added. “In other cases involving a world leader, we will err on the side of leaving the content up if there is a clear public interest in doing so.”

In April President Trump had a face to face meeting with Twitter co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Jack Dorsey.

The meeting between the two men could have potentially been awkward for a number of reasons after President Trump hit out at the platform claiming it was discriminating against him and other republicans after the number of his followers fluctuated.

Jack Dorsey had previously said he wanted to encourage a productive, healthy conversation on the platform. The same platform that President Trump repeatedly uses to attack and criticise his opponents.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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