Jan 6, 2020

Why Twitter won't flag Trump's tweets on Iran

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's use of Twitter to threaten Iran brought renewed calls for CEO Jack Dorsey to take action to limit the president's use of the platform. However, Twitter maintains none of the president's messages violate the company's policies.

The bigger picture: Twitter has said that, in general, it will leave political leaders' tweets up even if they violate the terms of service that apply to other users. Last year it announced a policy that would see the company append a warning to tweets deemed to violate its rules. But, it has yet to apply that policy to Trump or anyone else.

Driving the news: In the wake of the killing of Qasem Soleimani, President Trump took to Twitter, using the platform to threaten to bomb Iranian cultural sites and, later in the weekend, to say he was putting both Iran and Congress on notice that if any Americans were killed he would take action — potentially disproportionate action — against Iran.

What they're saying:

  • Former Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser: "At Twitter, we used to dream about the possibilities for governing and diplomacy through the service. This is not what we had in mind."
  • Filmmaker Ava DuVernay: "C'mon, @Jack. This is a turning point. You can stop this. You are now complicit in something much larger if you don't really look at this and act."
  • Former Twitter executive and State Department official Katie Jacobs Stanton: "When I worked at Twitter, we thought it was a good idea for world leaders to have a platform to speak directly to constituents. The use case of announcing and/or threatening war is an outrageous abuse of the platform and most importantly, the Constitution."

The bottom line: Twitter is unlikely to rein in Trump.

Go deeper:

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The dangerous side of limiting Twitter replies

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Twitter's plan to allow users to control who can reply to their posts, announced Wednesday, is largely welcome news for those who are routinely harassed on the service — including many people of color, women, LGBTQ+ folks and other groups often targeted by online mobs.

Why it matters: It could create an even riper environment for misinformation — especially when combined with Twitter's policy of allowing elected officials' tweets to stand, even when they violate the rules that apply to other users.

Go deeperArrowJan 9, 2020

Twitter will add the ability to limit who can reply to tweets

Photo: Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Twitter plans to roll out the ability for users to limit who can reply to their tweets with four new options, director of product management Suzanne Xie said at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday, according to The Verge.

Why it matters: The change marks a departure from Twitter's wide-open approach to online interactions and represents a response to rising discontent with harassment and abuse on the service. Until now, users' control came only in the form of after-the-fact options like blocking other users or, more recently, hiding certain replies to their tweets.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Twitter suspends Katie Hopkins' account

Photo: Philip Toscano/PA Images via Getty Images

Twitter suspended Thursday the account of far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins, who President Trump has occasionally retweeted, The Independent reports.

The state of play: Hopkins built a media persona around making extreme Islamophobic and racist comments. The decision to lock her account, which Twitter said was due to a violation of its hateful conduct policy, came after Channel 4 host and anti-racism campaigner Rachel Riley met with representatives from the social media giant to advocate for her ban from the platform.

Go deeper: Trump retweets person who once called for "final solution" on Islamic terrorism

Keep ReadingArrowJan 30, 2020