You know how that old saying goes, what happens on Twitter becomes public news and never dies. That's especially true when you just so happen to be the leader of the free world. But instead of removing some of our commander-in-chief's more controversial internet shares, Twitter might label Donald Trump tweets when they violate the rules.
During a Washington Post-sponsored event in San Francisco on Wednesday, March 27, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's head of legal, policy, and trust and safety, announced that the company is considering labeling tweets from public officials that violate Twitter's rules. In response to a question about whether Trump is allowed to say whatever he chooses on Twitter, Gadde said the company is looking into ways that they can annotate tweets that violate their rules against hate speech and things of that nature with a message about why they are wrong, without actually removing the tweet, according to The Hill. A spokesperson for Twitter told Elite Daily via email on March 28 that the company is looking to add more content to tweets that might be in violation of Twitter's rules, but are still deemed newsworthy and of public interest. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment over the possibility of labelling Trump' tweets.
According to The Hill, Gadde said at the Wednesday event,
One of the things we’re working really closely on with our product and engineering folks is, ‘How can we label that?’ How can we put some context around it so people are aware that that content is actually a violation of our rules and it is serving a particular purpose in remaining on the platform.
Content coming from a political figure, such as Trump, that might violate Twitter's rules stays visible to users under what's been called the "newsworthy" exception to their guidelines. And while 2019 provides plenty of fuel for controversial tweets and political social media drama on both sides of the aisle, the president's account has been one of the most visible and most criticized.
For example, in September 2017, Trump tweeted that North Korea “won’t be around much longer!” if it fails to change its relationship with the United States. The tweet sparked controversy as critics called for it to be taken down for violating Twitter's rules against threats, according to The Washington Post. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
In light of the controversy, on Sept. 25, 2017, Twitter released a statement defending its choice to leave the tweet up, claiming "newsworthiness" as a consideration in determining whether to remove a tweet. Twitter declined to comment to Elite Daily on the specific tweet.
Twitter ran into a similar situation months later, when the president sent out another North Korea tweet that reignited the debate over Twitter's rules. On Jan. 2, 2018, Trump sent out a tweet about Kim Jong-un and North Korea, which critics said had the potential to spark nuclear conflict, according to The New York Times. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment about the tweet nor the controversy it sparked.
In light of the controversial tweet, Twitter leaned again on their "newsworthiness" clause, but updated their guidelines with a new rule for world leaders on Jan. 5, 2018. The new addition created a bit of a loophole for world leaders, saying that "blocking" such figures' tweets could "hide important information" from the people. Twitter declined to comment to Elite Daily on the specific tweet. The added rule read,
Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.
But, even with the exception in place for world leaders and "newsworthiness," there are still some types of content that Twitter will not look past. Gadde told the crowd in San Francisco that "a direct violent threat against an individual" would be taken down regardless of who tweets it, according to The Hill.
Should Twitter decide to move forward with their labeling idea, I expect more than a few tweets from a certain account to be marked up. Break out the red pen, guys.