One of Twitter’s rules is that “you may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people.”
With that in mind, it’s worth remembering U.S President Donald Trump tweeted back in January 2018 that: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!“
He followed that statement with another tweet stating that North Korea “won’t be around much longer“, a comment which drew the attention of a lot of Twitter users who repeatedly asked the platform to take it down.
Those demands were refused by Twitter who argued that what world leaders say is newsworthy and that newsworthiness makes Twitter’s own rules not apply. Even so, the activists and critics persisted.
Twitter has always insisted that its commitment to free speech is unwavering but its most recent experiences with with hate speech and overall toxic user behavior is forcing the social platform to change tactics.
Twitter is setting in place a new policy that will add special warning labels to tweets made by major political figures if the content lands somewhere in that grey area where it violates the site’s rules but deleting them is not really in the public interest.
“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,” Twitter announced in a blog post. “To fix that, we’re introducing a new notice that will provide additional clarity in these situations.“
They will instead be hidden behind a warning label stating that: “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.”
If the users do still want to read these tweets they can still do so by clicking on the warning.
The tweets will still remain on the site but they will not make an appearance in any searches or otherwise find their way on the list of recommended tweets.
The new policy will apply to government officials with verified accounts and who have over 100,000 followers but will not be applied retroactively.