Twitter has announced that it intends to add what would essentially be warning labels and disclaimers to tweets posted by world leaders that allegedly violate the platform’s controversial and highly inconsistent policies concerning abuse, harassment, threats and so-called hate speech.
While the social media network has denied that this new rule has anything to do with President Donald Trump, there’s a strong belief that the rule is in fact centered on stymieing him.
“[T]here 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,” the social media network announced in a blog post Thursday.
“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.”
The network claims it’s implementing this policy on behalf of “the public’s interest.”
Sometimes, we decide that it may be in the public’s interest for certain Tweets to remain on Twitter, even if they would otherwise break our rules. We’re going to start using a new notice to make it clear when we make these decisions. Read more:https://t.co/XqlJ9KHgir
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) June 27, 2019
The policy was reportedly announced in response to complaints that Twitter allows world leaders to allegedly violate its rules without consequences. These complaints have of course centered on Trump, whom left-wing radicals in the media and elsewhere have falsely accused of violating Twitter’s policies.
When the president posted a humorous meme that depicted him beating up CNN in a wrestling match two years ago, for instance, the media falsely accused him of inciting violence.
At the time, a member of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) told The Guardian that the president’s “charged rhetoric online undermines the media in the US and emboldens autocratic leaders around the world.” In its own statement, CNN accused Trump of inciting violence against reporters with his “juvenile behavior.”
Virtually every single mainstream media outlet made an issue out of the president’s tweet, with The Atlantic in particular warning, “Donald Trump Is Testing Twitter’s Harassment Policy.”
Two years later members of the very same media used Twitter to suggest that a 16-year-old high school student deserved to be punched in the face for smiling politely in the face of a radical left-wing activist and troublemaker:
Honest question. Have you ever seen a more punchable face than this kid’s? pic.twitter.com/jolQ7BZQPD
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) January 20, 2019
Conversely, virtually zero mainstream media outlets took note of this. Nor did they take note of a “Saturday Night Live” writer offering to provide oral sex to anyone who punched the kid, and left-wing comedian Trevor Noah admitting that “everyone” wanted to punch the kid.
About around the same time that this happened, the “journalists” at HuffPost asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey how he’d respond if the president called on his followers to murder journalists …
To be clear, the president has never once used his Twitter account to promote or incite violence. The same cannot be said of a large number of radical left-wingers who have never once been held accountable for their genuinely violent rhetoric.
That being said, when asked Thursday by BuzzFeed whether its new policy is directed at the president, a Twitter spokesperson “said the change was not inspired by any specific world leader.”
“The spokesperson also said the policy will not be retroactive and will apply only to tweets from verified accounts of government officials or candidates for public office with more than 100,000 followers,” the outlet reported.
The principle behind the policy, Twitter explained in its blog post, is that it’s in the public’s interest for some tweets that allegedly violate its rules to remain up.
“Serving the public conversation includes providing the ability for anyone to talk about what matters to them; this can be especially important when engaging with government officials and political figures,” the post reads.
“By nature of their positions these leaders have outsized influence and sometimes say things that could be considered controversial or invite debate and discussion. A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable.”
So rather than just delete allegedly troubling tweets, Twitter intends to just essentially quarantine them.
Once placed in the quarantine, a tweet will be featured “less prominently” on the platform and not appear in:
- “Safe search”
- “Timeline when switched to Top Tweets”
- “Live events pages”
- “Recommended Tweet push notifications “
- “Notifications tab”
Some on the far-left have responded to the announcement by complaining that these disclaimers will bolster the right’s otherwise substantiated claim of social media censorship.
“Republicans in Washington, including Trump, often claim without real evidence that technology companies are biased against conservatives,” CNN lamented.
“Such a disclaimer on a Trump tweet, even if he had clearly violated Twitter’s rules, would provoke a new cycle of such complaints at a time when Washington is increasingly investigating Big Tech over concerns about antitrust and privacy.”
While the president had not yet responded to the announcement as of Thursday afternoon, his followers had warned that it’s yet another reminder of why social media needs to be regulated.
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