Political figures using Twitter to threaten, abuse others will be slapped with warning labels
Presidents and other world leaders and political figures who use Twitter to threaten or abuse others could find their tweets slapped with warning labels.
The new policy, announced by the company on Thursday, comes amid complaints from activists and others that President Donald Trump has gotten a free pass from Twitter to post hateful messages and attack his enemies in ways they say could lead to violence.
From now on, a tweet that Twitter deems to involve matters of public interest, but which violates the service’s rules, will be obscured by a warning explaining the violation.
Users will have to tap through the warning to see the underlying message, but the tweet won’t be removed, as Twitter might do with a regular person’s posts.
Twitter said the policy applies to all government officials, candidates and similar public figures with more than 100,000 followers. In addition to applying the label, Twitter won’t use its algorithms to “elevate” or otherwise promote such tweets.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Keegan Hankes, research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, who focuses on far-right extremist propaganda online. But, he added, Twitter is essentially arguing “that hate speech can be in the public interest. I am arguing that hate speech is never in the public interest.”
Twitter refused to comment on whether any of Trump’s past tweets violated its rules and would not say what role, if any, his Twitter activity played in the creation of the new warning-label policy.
The new stance could fuel additional Trumpian ire toward social media. The president routinely complains, without evidence, that social media sites are biased against him and other conservatives.