On Thursday, Twitter announced it has changed its policy and will label President Trump’s tweets if Twitter deems them violative of Twitter’s rules.
Twitter said any verified political candidates and government officials with more than 100,000 followers can be targeted, according to The Washington Post.
In order to view the labeled tweets, users will have to click on a screen that says, “The Twitter Rules about abusive behavior apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.”
Twitter wrote in a blog post:
Our highest priority is to protect the health of the public conversation on Twitter, and an important part of that is ensuring our rules and how we enforce them are easy to understand. 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. To fix that, we’re introducing a new notice that will provide additional clarity in these situations, and sharing more on when and why we’ll use it.
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. 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.
With this in mind, there 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. 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.
Twitter noted that violative tweets would get less oxygen, noting, “When a Tweet has this notice placed on it, it will feature less prominently on Twitter, and not appear in: Safe search, Timeline when switched to Top Tweets, Live events pages, Recommended Tweet push notifications, Notifications tab, Explore.”
On Wednesday, Trump went after Twitter, asserting to Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo, “Well, they’re doing it to me on Twitter. What they did to me on Twitter is incredible. You know, I have millions and millions of followers, but I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me on Twitter and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message.”
Bartiromo asked, “What are you going to do about it? These companies have an enormous amount of power if they can even stop the president of the free world from getting his message out. “
Trump replied, “What am I going to do about it? These people are all Democrats. It’s totally biased towards Democrats. If I announce tomorrow that I’m going to become a nice liberal Democrat, I would pick up five times more followers. I was picking up a hundred thousand followers every few days, and all of a sudden — I’m much hotter now than I was a number of months ago, a number of months ago, then all of a sudden it stopped. Now I pick up a lot but I don’t pick up nearly what I did …”
In late March, The Daily Wire reported:
According to The Hill, on Wednesday at a Washington Post event, Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy, and trust and safety, said if public figures, including politicians, issue offensive tweets, Twitter may annotate them and add a message about why they have not been deleted.
Asked whether President Trump could say anything he wanted to on Twitter, Gadde responded, “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? … When we leave that content on the platform there’s no context around that and it just lives on Twitter and people can see it and they just assume that is the type of content or behavior that’s allowed by our rules.”