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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Like Facebook, Twitter is giving elected officials broader freedom, but it's tough to discern where — if anywhere— the platform is drawing a line.

Why it matters: The company posted a statement on Tuesday aimed at clarifying its policies for "world leaders," but it remains to be seen if the rules are anything other than a free pass.

Who the policy covers: Twitter tells Axios it defines "world leaders" fairly broadly, including all who meet the following criteria:

  • Are or represent a government/elected official, are running for public office, or are being considered for a government position (i.e., next in line, awaiting confirmation, named successor to an appointed position).
  • Have more than 100,000 followers.
  • Are verified users.

Context: Twitter's latest post comes amid calls from Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris for the social network to ban President Trump.

What politicians can't say on Twitter: In theory, world leaders are supposed to follow the rules that apply to everyone else. That would mean no threats of violence, no promoting terrorism, no engaging in targeted harassment, and no harassing people of a particular race, religion, sexuality or gender.

  • But — and it's a big but — Twitter says it may leave up the posts even if politicians break the rules due to the "newsworthiness" of their comments. The company says it reserves the right to limit promotion of such tweets and to prominently note that the content has violated Twitter's rules. But it hasn't taken this step since announcing the policy in June.

What politicians can say: Basically — given Twitter's record — the answer seems to be "anything."

  • Twitter's new statement only reinforces that notion, saying, "Presently, 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 isn't saying how it decides whether politicians' tweets represent "saber-rattling" as opposed to a direct threat.

Meanwhile: Chinese-owned TikTok said it is forming a committee to determine what its U.S. policies should be around content moderation.

Go deeper: What pols can and can't say on Facebook

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
9 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.