Twitter is apparently more concerned about your cursing at Donald Trump and members of his administration than the fact his tweets have caused diplomatic incidents and led to the harassment of teenage girls, among other negative consequences.
According to The Verge, after developer Victoria Fierce sent an angry tweet to Mike Pence in relation to the Trump administration's recent rollback of transgender protections in schools — a tweet that featured some colorful language — she got a notification from Twitter about "potentially abusive content" on her account.
She was placed on a temporary timeout where only her followers could see her tweets for the next 12 hours, meaning Pence would not be able to see what she wrote (since he doesn't follow her).
Fierce's tweet said,
Fuck you. I gotta piss, and you're putting me — an American — in danger of assault by your white supremacist brothers.
Speaking with The Verge, she said,
It was just one tweet and certainly not the first time I've told an elected official to fuck off.
Fierce's temporary timeout was a product of Twitter's efforts to combat abusive accounts. The social media platform has struggled with this and often been criticized for how it handles instances of abuse.
Now, those looking to give Trump and his administration a piece of their mind on Twitter — and not so respectfully — are having a bit of a tough time.
Twitter implemented this change last week.
Now, when Twitter determines that account is being abusive, using undisclosed criteria, it temporarily shields the account's tweets from anyone who isn't following it — as Fierce experienced.
One tweet won't trigger this, according to The Verge, but a "pattern" of abuse will.
Twitter is reportedly "thinking a lot about" how to best implement this in relation to strong language and political expression.
In some ways, this is good news in terms of limiting online harassment, which can have devastating consequences.
But, when it comes to free speech and political expression, these new restrictions are clearly not ideal.
In Fierce's words,
Politically, I think this sends a message that Twitter considers all forms of abuse equal. To their systems, a white supremacist calling for shooting a person of color is just as bad as an angry Latinx renter telling their city's rent board to fuck off.
Clearly, Twitter still has a very long way to go in terms of its approach to abuse, and Fierce's frustrations are understandable.