On Twitter, Donald Trump rivals the most malicious trolls and purveyors of misinformation. Yet his status as a world leader makes him immune to the social network’s posting policies.
Albeit indirectly, that was the message from Twitter on Friday, as the company faces mounting public pressure to stop broadcasting Trump’s endless stream of personal attacks, provocations and disinformation.
“Elected world leaders play a critical role in that conversation because of their outsized impact on our society,” Twitter notes in a new statement. “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”
Among other displays of outrage over Trump’s provocations and threats of nuclear war, protestors projected the phrase “@jack is #complicit” onto the walls of Twitter’s San Francisco offices this week.
The message, of course, refers to Twitter’s second-time CEO Jack Dorsey.
Officially, Twitter says it does review tweets by world leaders within “the political context that defines them,” and then enforces its rules accordingly.
In its Friday statement, Twitter also insisted that business decisions don’t factor into its unwillingness to interrupt the accounts of powerful users. “No one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions,” it stressed.
Addressing one of Trump’s more notorious tweets, Twitter was recently forced to explain its decision not to police his threats against North Korea. While the taunts would normally have triggered Twitter’s anti-aggression policy, Twitter explained that their “newsworthiness” made them acceptable.
More broadly, CEO Jack Dorsey and other Twitter executives have recently been forced to admit they could be doing a better job of communicating its content-policing policies to users.
In November, Twitter published a clearer version of its content policing policies. This latest set of rules were short on concrete changes, but long on additional rationale for controversial policies and enforcement methods.
That included updating Twitter’s media policy Help Center page to include expectation-setting examples of the types of content covered by the policy.
While world leaders may get a pass, Twitter has been trying to clean up its network.
Last month, for instance, it began cracking down on what it considers to be “hateful” content.