President Donald Trump is often guilty of violating Twitter rules and policies — the platform clearly states that it does not tolerate targeted harassment, including the glorification of or threats of violence against an individual or a group of people (or inciting others to partake in that sort of activity). Yet the president of the United States regularly engages in exactly that sort of behavior, seemingly with zero repercussions.
Until now, that is — sort of. Going forward, Twitter is putting a new policy in place that will flag tweets from world leaders that break its rules, but which Twitter decides are in the “public interest.” The offending tweets will then be given a disclaimer and eschewed from the algorithm, according to a new blog post published on Thursday:
With this in mind, 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. 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.
Accounts that meet criteria for this notice must be verified with more than 100,000 followers, and be or represent either a government official, those who are running for public office, or being considered for a government position. However the platform notes that it is unlikely that direct threats of violence or calls to commit violence will be fall under public interest.
A spokesperson for Twitter spokesperson told CNN Business: “This is not about perceived bias but about providing more clarity if our rules have been broken.”
The disclaimers will appear similar to those that denote sensitive content, and users will then have to click away the notification before seeing the offending tweet. Given that Trump has been given a free pass for so long, it will be interesting to see just what Twitter deems as public interest, going forward.
Such as, for instance, this doctored image that Trump tweeted in July of 2017, showing him “beating up” the CNN logo. One year later, a 56-year-old man from Aventura, Florida was arrested after 12 packages containing pipe bombs had been found sent to 10 different targets, including that cable news network and to the Obamas, Clintons, and former Vice President Joe Biden, among others.
Clearly, there are still many, many more steps Twitter can take in this realm, but at the very least, this is a start.