Twitter refuses to ban president
Calls to ban Donald Trump from Twitter are at least as old as his presidency. But it’s not going to happen, at least not while he’s in office.
The latest strive involves an all-caps tweet sent late Sunday warning Iran of “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKE OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
So, does threatening nuclear annihilation upon an entire country get you the boot from the social network? Twitter’s policy states that threats of violence can get you kicked off. For instance, if somebody were to tweet a threat to kill his neighbor with a sawed-off shotgun, they could easily be kicked off for violating Twitter’s policies.
But not if you are Trump – or another world leader. Here’s why:
Twitter treats Trump differently than a “regular” user.
In January, Twitter published a blog post publicly codifying what had already been company policy, saying, “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”
Twitter’s view is that keeping up political figures’ controversial tweets encourages discussion and helps hold leaders accountable. The comments, the company argues, can either happen in the open, on Twitter or behind closed doors.
The blog post, written a year after Trump became president, does not reference him. But it’s a clear response to calls to remove him by liberal activists, writers and Twitter users even before he became president. And it nods to criticism that Twitter is keeping Trump on only because as arguably the world’s best-known tweeter, he’s made the service more visible.
Twitter bans “specific threats of violence or wishing for serious physical harm, death, or disease to an individual or group of people.” It also prohibits users from affiliating with organizations that “use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.” This policy is in part to keep what Twitter calls “extremist groups” off its service.
But there’s a big exception: “This policy does not apply to military or government entities.”