Does newsworthiness trump Twitter’s terms of service?

The platform recently responded to criticism that it hasn’t taken down President Trump’s tweet directed at North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, but its explanation didn’t quell backlash.

The president’s preference for Twitter has put the platform into a tricky situation.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump tweeted the following:

CNBC reported :

Trump’s tweet was taken as a declaration of war by North Korea. The rogue state’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said: “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

In a press conference, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that the tweet was a declaration of war, calling the idea “absurd”:

The tweet, which has not been deleted, poses a problem for Twitter, which has struggled to address bullying and harassment on its platform.

Fortune reported:

Twitter has a longstanding problem with abuse that many see as contributing to its stagnant user growth. It has brought in several new measures this year to address the issue, such as making it harder for abusive tweets to reach the eyes of their targets, and banning more people for their trollish behavior.

Under “Abusive Behavior,” Twitter’s rules state:

We believe in freedom of expression and in speaking truth to power, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we do not tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.

Any accounts and related accounts engaging in the activities specified below may be temporarily locked and/or subject to permanent suspension.

  • Violent threats (direct or indirect): You may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.
  • Harassment : You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. Some of the factors that we may consider when evaluating abusive behavior include:

o if a primary purpose of the reported account is to harass or send abusive messages to others;

o if the reported behavior is one-sided or includes threats;

o if the reported account is inciting others to harass another account; and

o if the reported account is sending harassing messages to an account from multiple accounts.

On Monday, Twitter’s public policy team tweeted the following thread to explain why it was not removing Trump’s tweet:

Some took the explanation to suggest that almost no tweet which violates Twitter’s terms of service will be taken down if it meets the “newsworthy” standard.

It parallels a proposed amendment to the Presidential Records Act: In June, a lawmaker asked that Trump’s tweets be included in theNational Archives and Records Administration’s domain. The inclusion would bar Trump from deleting his tweets (including his infamous “covfefe” tweet), because they would be official presidential communications.

Twitter users who criticized the statement were quick to point out what some called a double standard:

It doesn’t help that many of Trump’s tweets have incited passionate responses and consumed headlines.

Quartz reported:

Engadget looked back at 1,200 tweets since Trump became president and said that while many of them were “incendiary,” they appeared to skirt just shy of crossing the line into a clear-cut violation that would draw censorship. (That piece was published before Trump retweeted a gif of himself hitting a golf ball at Hillary Clinton.)

TechCrunch reported:

Critics also argue that Trump has other platforms, including the official POTUS Twitter account, press conferences and the presidency, to share his views with the public, and that continuing to let him tweet with impunity from his personal account has not only resulted in violations of Twitter’s own standards, but may encourage abuse against whatever individual or group is currently in Trump’s sights. The latter scenario is also a matter of public interest because an increase in hate crimes has been linked with Trump’s rise to power.

How would you suggest Twitter respond to this situation, PR Daily readers?

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