Twitter Limits Offensive Tweets, But Won't Block Trump

Without blocking Donald Trump and other notorious news makers, Twitter now plans to limit the spread of its more offensive tweets.

“You will not be able to like, reply, share, or retweet the tweet in question,” Twitter’s Safety team stated on Tuesday, in reference to tweets from world leaders that break platform rules.

Twitter’s current position is to allow tweets from influential figures if it determines that doing so is in the “public interest.”

In June, the company said it would shield certain tweets with a “notice” screen, which users must click or tap before viewing offending tweets from world leaders.

Twitter said it will only consider applying the notice to tweets from verified accounts of government officials or their representatives, as well as individuals running for public office who have more than 100,000 followers.

This week, Twitter said its policing policy remains a work in progress; it admitted there are limits to its screening efforts.

“We focus on the language of reported tweets and do not attempt to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent,” the company explained in a new post.

“Presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” it said.

Behavior that remains off-limits for public figures includes the promotion of “terrorism,” as well as “clear and direct threats of violence against an individual.”

Even here, however, Twitter said it will take the context of such threats into consideration.

“Direct interactions with fellow public figures and/or commentary on political and foreign policy issues would likely not result in enforcement,” according to Twitter.

That is, Twitter is unlikely to block a tweet including a declaration of war from a world leader.

To vet the potential offense tweets, Twitter relies on its safety, legal and public policy units, along with regional teams. The process includes determining the immediacy and severity of potential harm from rule violations, with an emphasis on ensuring physical safety.

The teams also consider whether preserving an offending tweet will allow others to hold government officials, candidates, or appointees accountable for their statements.

Additionally, the teams consider whether there are other sources of information about statements available for the public to stay informed. And, if a tweet’s removal would inadvertently hide context or prevent people from understanding an issue of public concern.
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