A Twitter spokesperson apologized to the family of a Florida woman whom President Donald Trump suggested was murdered on the social media network over the weekend, with the president laying the blame on MSNBC host and former Congressman, Joe Scarborough — but the platform says they will not remove Trump’s tweets or his account over the matter.
Lori Klausutis, NBC News reports, died as a result of a heart condition that caused her to collapse and hit her head while she was working for Scarborough in 2001. Her death was not ruled a homicide, but President Donald Trump suggested without evidence, in a series of tweets issued over the last week, that Klausutis may have had an affair with the former Congressman, and that he may be connected to her “cold case” murder.
Klausutis’ husband, Timothy, fired back at the president in a letter to Twitter published Tuesday morning, reiterating that Lori’s death was an accident brought about by a medical condition, and that there is no reason to believe Scarborough is a “suspect” in her death or that she was the victim of foul play. He also asked Twitter to remove Trump’s tweets.
“My request is simple: Please delete these tweets,” Klausutis wrote, per NBC. “I’m a research engineer and not a lawyer, but reviewed all of Twitter’s rules and terms of service. The President’s tweet that suggests that Lori was murdered without evidence and contrary to the official autopsy is a violation of Twitter’s community rules and terms of service. An ordinary user like me would be banished from the platform for such a tweet but I am only asking that these tweets be removed.”
Twitter, through a spokesperson, responded that they would not remove the tweets or Trump’s account, but that they are working on an unspecified “rule change” that may prevent such issues in the future.
“We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family,” the company said. “We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly.”
Twitter says it takes a “hands off” policy in its approach to users on the platform. Recently, though, the social media company has instituted a number of rules, making it both a fact-checking service and an account screener. Users are regularly warned about sharing unsubstantiated claims — and are now given warnings when links they may tweet contain “false” information — and many users have found themselves removed for suspended from the platform over tweets.
Leftists have been particularly critical of Twitter’s decision to allow President Trump to remain on the platform, even though, they claim, he uses it as a pulpit from which to spread information. Twitter has never given a specific rationale for leaving the president’s account untouched, but at least one financial analyst suspects that, without Trump, the platform would have substantially less value to investors. Forbes reported in 2017 that Trump, by himself, could be worth as much as $2 billion to the social media company’s valuation.