Twitter is finally cracking down on abuse. Well, kind of. After receiving backlash for allowing racist, violent, and misogynistic tweets, the social media platform has adopted new policies to deal with hateful conduct. Which, of course, begs the question: will Twitter's new abuse policies stop Donald Trump's tweets? The sad answer is probably not.
Twitter's new policies against hateful conduct will affect all of their users except military or members of government — which means that Trump can pretty much post whatever he'd like without being held accountable. That includes tweets that threaten North Korea, harassment of fellow elected officials, and retweeting of violent, factually inaccurate videos.
Yet, strangely, the social media platform's new policies, which go into effect on Dec. 18, are meant to curb some of the very Twitter hate many have accused Trump of spewing. The site explained that their new set of rules targets hate speech and threats of violence. One of their policies states,
You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism. You also may not affiliate with organizations that — whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform — use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.
That probably rules out this tweet Trump posted of himself "beating up" CNN.
Or, the multiple times he has threatened North Korea.
Or, that time he retweeted a "video" of himself hitting Hillary Clinton's head with a golf ball.
Or, that other, other time he retweeted anti-Muslim videos from a British far-right group, Britain's First. It's worth noting, by the way, that key players in said group was deleted during this recent Twitter purge — and they were not happy. An email circulated to Britain's First members on Dec. 18, following the purge, read in part,
Twitter is now only available to those on the 'left' of politics. This latest attack on our movement demonstrates that 'free speech' is only available to those who do not criticize socialism or Islam.
Other so-called white nationalists were also angry and confused about Twitter's new policy change, including prominent white nationalist leader Richard Spencer who wrote, "I've lost more than a hundred followers in 24 hrs, but lots of pro-White accounts, even sh*t-lordy ones, remain... Haphazard."
You have to think that if the far-right and white nationalists are annoyed by these new policies, there's definitely some progress happening — even if it excludes Trump.
Not only is the site suspending accounts that promote sexist and racist ideas, but they'll also mark imagery as "sensitive media" when it include logos and symbols that promote any sort of hostility. There is the caveat, however, that Twitter can tweak these policies if “the behavior is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.”
For instance, when Trump tweeted out threats against North Korea, Twitter posted a thread explaining that they chose not to delete his comments because of the "newsworthiness" of it.
As infuriating as that is, the platform's new rules are still changing and shifting. That means that there is a chance (however small) that they will expand their policies to government officials as well.
“In our efforts to be more aggressive here, we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process,” Twitter said in a statement. “We’ll evaluate and iterate on these changes in the coming days and weeks, and will keep you posted on progress along the way.”
Here's hoping that that progress includes holding the president to the same standards as the rest of us. That doesn't seem like so much to ask.