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Twitter has a weird plan for world leaders who break its rules

Twitter has a weird plan for world leaders who break its rules
[Photo: Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo/Flickr]

Look folks, there’s no need to continue reporting a certain world leader for violating Twitter’s terms of service. The social media site is fully aware that certain commanders in chief use Twitter to bully, harass, discriminate, troll, dox, share fake news, and other actions that theoretically violate the site’s rules. While other Twitter accounts that, say, threaten nuclear war with North Korea or retweet racist videos would be suspended or perhaps banned entirely, Twitter doesn’t feel like it can just delete a particular president’s tweets, ya know? Especially when those tweets are newsworthy and bring a lot of traffic to the site.

Twitter isn’t completely ignoring the problem, though. It just unveiled a new plan that will allow the tweets to remain on the site, but be labeled in such a way as to indicate that the company is fully aware that the tweet violates its terms of service. Those tweets, however, will not be removed because bullying is apparently newsworthy when it’s done by a world leader, and Twitter has long held that such tweets are in the public interest.

“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,” the company said in a blog post on Thursday. “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.”

Now verified accounts by government officials, or those running for public office or about to step into a public role, that have more than 100,000 followers are more or less exempt from Twitter’s rules. Instead of being suspended, they will be affixed with a warning label that basically says, “Yes, we know this violates our rules, but we’re leaving it up anyway.” Any tweet that receives a warning label will be limited in its reach on the site, removed from live events pages, not found in the “top tweets” that show up in users’ feeds, and won’t be featured in Twitter’s explore tab.

Government officials don’t have free rein to issue calls to arms on the site, though. Twitter maintains the right to delete tweets where a world leader issues “direct threats of violence or calls to commit violence against an individual” as those instances are “unlikely” to be in the public interest.

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