Many Twitter users have been complaining about several tweets disseminated by President Donald Trump. These Twitter members say that if they sent out tweets with the same insults and language used by the president, they would have had their account suspended. After all, besides giving insulting names to anyone that the thin-skinned president feels has insulted him, Trump has threatened nuclear war with North Korea, posted a video containing violence against CNN and more.
While not mentioning Trump by name, Twitter explained today in a blog post
that "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." In addition, the social media site noted that "a critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable."
"Our highest priority is to protect the health of the public conversation on Twitter, and an important part of that is ensuring our rules and how we enforce them are easy to understand. In the past, we’ve 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. To fix that, we’re introducing a new notice that will provide additional clarity in these situations.
Serving the public conversation includes providing the ability for anyone to talk about what matters to them; this can be especially important when engaging with government officials and political figures. By nature of their positions, these leaders have outsized influence and sometimes say things that could be considered controversial or invite debate and discussion. A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable."-Twitter
Offending tweets from government officials will not be "algorithmically elevated" by Twitter
Twitter's solution is to make users go through various screens. In the "rare occasion" when it is in the public interest for Twitter to allow a tweet to remain posted even if it violates the platform's rules, Twitter will place a notice on the tweet. This will indicate that to view such a tweet, Twitter members will have to click or tap on an additional screen. The company says that it will prevent these tweets from being "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 will now label and hide tweets from government officials that would normally violate its rules
So just exactly whose tweets are covered by the new policy? Government officials, those representing a government official, someone running for office or being considered for a public office are affected by the new policy if they have a verified Twitter account with more than 100,000 followers. If someone meets this criterion and sends a tweet that would normally be a violation of Twitter's terms of service, a notice will appear that reads "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." To the right of the notice will be a link marked "view;" tapping on that link will allow the tweet to be visible to the user. These tweets also will not appear in Safe search, Timeline when switched to Top Tweets, Live events pages, Recommended Tweet push notifications, Notifications tab and Explore.
Twitter is starting this policy on tweets posted today. Twitter says that it will continue to evaluate the rules and will make future changes if necessary.