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Twitter sets rules for world leaders after complaint to ban Trump

Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and founder of Square. (JD Lasica/Flickr)
October 16, 2019

Twitter made an official announcement on Tuesday explaining why it won’t ban world leaders from the platform – alluding to pressure from critics of President Donald Trump to ban him.

In a post on its official blog, Twitter noted that they “welcome the conversation” about world leader’s tweets, but explained that it’s a complex issue that requires a careful look at individual tweets from a world leader.

“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,” Twitter wrote in their blog post.

“We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely,” Twitter noted.

The platform noted that they will take action against individuals who makes posts promoting terrorism, issuing clear threats of violence, exposing individuals’ private information or intimate photos, engaging in sexual exploitation of children, or promoting self-harm.

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“In other cases involving a world leader, we will err on the side of leaving the content up if there is a clear public interest in doing so,” the post added.

Twitter said it recognizes the new environment of global leaders using social media to communicate, and said the platform enables public conversation where users may learn about the global events.

“Our goal is to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially. In doing so, we aim to provide direct insight into our enforcement decision-making, to serve public conversation, and protect the public’s right to hear from their leaders and to hold them to account,” the post said.

Earlier in the month, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris wrote a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey requesting Trump’s removal from Twitter, citing violations of Twitter’s rules.

In her letter, Harris referenced six tweets from Trump that she alleged violated the platform’s rules, CNN reported.

“No user, regardless of their job, wealth, or stature should be exempt from abiding by Twitter’s user agreement, not even the President of the United States,” she wrote in the letter.

In June, Twitter had posted a similar blog post referencing the tweets of world leaders, noting that “it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules,” but said those instances are rare.

In such instances involving a public official with a verified account and at least 100,000 followers, Twitter said the posts will be concealed and requires users to click to see the tweet, and the tweets will not appear in timelines, searching, notifications, or recommended pages.