A report in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday indicates that Twitter plans to treat President Donald Trump as a typical user once the president leaves office in January.
President Donald Trump has used Twitter as a primary method of communication during his term in the White House, and both the president and Twitter have reportedly benefitted. The social media platform allows the president to work around most mainstream media outlets, and the attention the president brought to the platform reportedly gave Twitter increased value.
In 2017, experts told Fortune Magazine that the president was worth an additional $2 billion in valuation to the social media company.
In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, Twitter, under pressure from users, began marking Trump’s tweets with a “misleading information” label or censoring the tweets from appearing in other users’ timelines if the tweets violated company policy, rather than removing them altogether. The idea was to limit Trump’s reach and influence without effectively muzzling the president.
The idea, the platform said, was to allow users to be “able to choose to see what their leaders are saying with clear context.”
Come Inauguration Day, though, Trump, who will no longer be a world leader, will return to being (mostly) treated like any other Twitter user, the WSJ says.
“Mr. Trump is currently able to tweet with less risk, compared with private citizens, of having tweets taken down or his account suspended. Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, which has more than 88 million followers, will no longer receive special privileges when he becomes a private citizen,” Twitter’s spokesman told the outlet.
“The loss of privileges reserved for world leaders and public officials would mean that if Mr. Trump violates the site’s rules, those tweets would be taken down rather than labeled in the future,” the spokesperson continued. “Mr. Trump’s tweets have been labeled by the company repeatedly both before and since the election, often with a warning that ‘this claim about election fraud is disputed.'”
Twitter, the WSJ notes, does understand that Trump’s tweets will be newsworthy and, because of that, says it will pay special care to Trump tweets that seem to run afoul of the company’s policies. Instead of being subject to blanket rules, Twitter will likely judge the then-former president’s tweets on a “case-by-case” basis to determine whether they should be left, up, censored, or removed altogether.
That could buy Trump extra leeway.
“I expect Twitter will still see the newsworthiness of his tweets and allow him to continue to push the envelope,” Twitter’s spokesperson told WSJ.
When the White House turns over, so will the “@POTUS” and “@FLOTUS” handles. The president’s current Twitter account — the official one, not “@realDonaldTrump” — will become “@POTUS45” and will be archived. The National Archives will become responsible for maintaining access to the Trump White House’s official tweets, the way they are responsible for maintaining access to all official White House communications after a president’s tenure in office has ended.
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