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How Twitter made its own rules for Trump to break


When Twitter slapped a warning label Regarding President Trump’s tweet Thursday night about riots in Minnesota’s twin cities, the company’s official explanation was that the president had violated a rule banning the “glorification of violence.” But that rationale doesn’t explain why Twitter chose to leave the tweet on the site for people to see, or why it blocked the ability to write replies, or why past tweets that apparently broke the same rule were allowed to remain unchanged.

To understand these decisions, you need to know the other Twitter rules. There are plenty.

Along with other major social media services, Twitter has evolved over the years from an area of ​​free speech and fire to something more regulated in response to business concerns, government pressure and complaints. users. Like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and Pinterest, it has often been forced by events to update its policies on harassment, hate speech, disinformation, and election interference, among others.

Under the leadership of CEO Jack Dorsey, Twitter took a unique approach to this task, erecting a framework based on local concepts and definitions. Using a more nuanced approach than its competitors, the company has sought to portray itself as defending freedom of expression while embracing values ​​like inclusiveness and human dignity.

While its content rules may appear to prescribe specific responses to specific transgressions, in practice the subjectivity involved in interpreting and balancing different edicts gives the company leeway to make ad hoc judgments. – as the White House learned not once but twice this week.

Monday, the company put a note two tweets from Trump on the mail-in ballots. “Get the facts,” he said, referring to a bulleted list of statements that dismantled the president’s claims. This was the first time Twitter has applied a fact-checking tag to any of Trump’s tweets.

Twitter said it had previously used the warning tag for Brazilian politician Osmar Terra, who tweeted in April that quarantine increases the spread of the coronavirus.

The warning label on Trump’s tweet Thursday, which implied protesters in Minneapolis could be shot, was the first time the company had found him to violate the rule of glorifying violence, despite previous episodes like indulge in nuclear sword noises to North Korea.

“The tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence and the risk that it could inspire similar actions today,” a spokesperson for Twitter in a statement.

While it sounds simple, Twitter has given itself leeway with a parallel policy that allows “public interest exceptionsFor rule-breaking tweets from politicians and other government figures. Twitter’s description of this policy details a long list of factors that go into enforcing the exemption and handling the tweets that receive it.

“A core function of our service is to provide a place where people can respond openly and publicly to their leaders and hold them accountable,” Twitter written in a blog post in June 2019.

The company developed on politics in October, declaring that he would enforce the rules for any account engaging in the promotion of terrorism, threats of violence or the publication of private information, for example.

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

Influencer-focused platforms struggle to understand how to deal with important personalities versus average users, said Kat Lo, a researcher who studies online moderation at the non-profit Meedan. By equipping itself with tools in addition to account deactivation and post deletion, Twitter made its rules much more enforceable, she said.

With Facebook – which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp – signaling his reluctance to pass judgment on Trump’s public statements, “it’s actually Twitter that sets itself apart from other social media companies in a big way,” Lo said.

Still, the fact that Twitter has so far not acted on a Trump tweet, despite plenty of opportunities, shows the company has its own reservations about taking @realdonaldtrump and its loyal and loyal followers. With Trump ordering the executive to reconsider the rules Twitter and its competitors rely on for doing business, the costs of the showdown are clear (although this executive order is more threat than punishment).

“The very day they decided to check the facts on a tweet on the postal ballots, they decided not to check the facts on a tweet implying that a reporter the president doesn’t like is responsible for a murderNoted Renée DiResta, head of technical research at the Stanford Internet Observatory. “So the application of the policy is still not an indication that everything President Trump says will be verified.”

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