- Twitter is going to add a warning to tweets by politicians and world leaders that violate its rules.
- Critics of President Donald Trump have called on Twitter to bar him, but the social network has resisted.
- Offending tweets will now be put behind a special warning that states they break the rules but are available because it is in the public interest.
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Twitter is going to start putting warnings on tweets by politicians and world leaders that violate its rules amid ongoing calls for President Donald Trump to be barred from the social network, the company said on Thursday.
The president is notorious for his prolific Twitter habit, and critics have long argued that some of his more incendiary tweets fall foul of Twitter’s rules on threatening violence and bullying.
The San Francisco-headquartered tech firm has previously rejected the idea that Trump’s comments were banworthy, arguing that the inherent newsworthiness of his tweets means that they should stay up, regardless of any official rules.
On Thursday, Twitter offered a compromise: a new feature that will flag tweets that violate its rules but are deemed by the company to be in the public interest to remain available.
An image of how the warning may look is below. Users will have to click through to actually see the content of the tweet.
“There are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules. On the rare occasions when this happens, we’ll place a notice – a screen you have to click or tap through before you see the Tweet – to provide additional context and clarity,” the company wrote in a blog post.
“We’ll also take steps to make sure the Tweet is not algorithmically elevated on our service, to strike the right balance between enabling free expression, fostering accountability, and reducing the potential harm caused by these Tweets,” Twitter added.
Twitter did not mention Trump by name in the blog post announcing the new policy. The company said that to be eligible for the warning treatment, a tweet needs to come from a government official or someone running for public office who is verified and has more than 100,000 followers.
The feature will not be retroactive, Twitter said, so don’t expect to see controversial old tweets from Trump appended with this warning.
Twitter said that a “cross-functional” team, including representatives from its legal, public-policy, and safety departments, would determine which tweets meet the criteria for the warning treatment, based on a number of guidelines including:
- The immediacy and severity of potential harm from the rule violation, with an emphasis on ensuring physical safety
- Whether preserving a Tweet will allow others to hold the government official, candidate for public office, or appointee accountable for their statements.
While the policy hopes to strike a middle ground, it’s likely to draw criticism from right-wing commentators who say that internet platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Google are trying to silence conservative voices. Numerous commentators, as well as Trump, on the right have accused Twitter of “shadow banning” prominent conservatives, making it more difficult for users to see their content. Twitter has said it does not do shadow bans.
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