Social platform wants to point out when tweets violate its rules but should remain up to serve the pubic interest
Twitter is considering adding warning labels to tweets that violate its rules but are posted by dignitaries and politicians like President Donald Trump.
Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s head of legal, policy and trust and safety, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that the labels would help add “context” to tweets that break company rules but otherwise serve the pubic interest by remaining on the platform.
“One of the things we’re working really closely on with our product and engineering folks is, ‘How can we label that?’” Gadde said.
Labels would help alleviate some of the confusion that comes with Twitter’s current laissez faire attitude towards tweets from heads of state, according to Gadde. “When we leave that content on the platform there’s no context around that and it just lives on Twitter and people can see it and they just assume that is the type of content or behavior that’s allowed by our rules.”
The company has been criticized for capriciously enforcing its rules, despite several instances where the president seemed to clearly violate its policies. One example: Trump’s detractors called for Twitter to block the president last year, after he bashed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for bragging he had a nuclear button on his desk. Trump warned he, too, has a nuclear button, but “it is a much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
Twitter later explained it holds off on blocking world leaders because “removing their controversial tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”
The company has spent much of the last year attempting to curb harassment on its platform, adopting a mantra focused on the “health of the conversation.” Twitter suspended several prominent far-right voices as 2018 came to a close, including digital shock jock Alex Jones, for breaking its rules. Other violations have went unpunished, however, as in Louis Farrakhan comparing Jews to termites on his account last year.
Twitter’s inconsistent enforcement continued to draw criticism however, after CEO Jack Dorsey told HuffPo earlier this year the company would “certainly talk about” banning President Trump if he directly threatened to kill someone in a tweet.