Twitter finally has an answer for critics who claim that the social network gives President Donald Trump a pass on his stirring tweets.
A company spokesman said Monday that it takes into account “newsworthiness” and public interest when determining whether or not a singular tweet violates the company’s rules for proper conduct.
The statement from Twitter came in response to requests for Twitter to take some action against the president’s account for a tweet threatening North Korea this past weekend. The North Korean government claimed the tweet was a “clear declaration of war,” and a case could easily break Twitter’s rules forbidding harassment and content that encourages violence.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Twitter’s rules about what does and does not establish an improper tweet are opaque, subjective, and often roughly applied. CEO Jack Dorsey seemed to admit as much in a tweet Monday in which he assured the company would “do better” with clarity in these types of circumstances.
We’re putting significant effort into increasing our transparency as a company, and commit to meaningful and fast progress. Will do better. https://t.co/g1Rvkaj2sl
— jack (@jack) September 25, 2017
Monday’s statements mark the first time the company has mentioned: “newsworthiness” and “public interest” as criteria in implementing its rules. By doing so, Twitter’s admitting it exercises at least some degree of editorial judgment and acts more like a media company, a label most social platforms have long tried to avoid.
“This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote in a blog post. “We need to do better on this, and will.”
The statements may mark a newfound enthusiasm to discuss the inner workings behind these judgments—at least when it comes to the world’s top public figures.