A new rule from the president's preferred social media outlet could have some consequences for his public communication. Twitter's new policy means that Trump's tweets may come with a warning if they violate the company's rules. As CNN reported, some of the president's tweets have broken the social media giant's rules before, so it's certainly possible that they could do so again with the new policy in place.
As Twitter described in a press release on Thursday, in the past the company allowed tweets from some public figures to remain on its platform, even if they violated Twitter's rules, because they were deemed to be in the public interest. The company's new policy says that tweets from public figures will still remain online if they violate the rules, but these tweets will now be obscured by a warning noting the violation. Users will then have to click on the warning to view the tweet if they so choose, the company said.
Twitter's new rule applies solely to public figures in the political arena who have verified accounts with over 100,000 followers, the company indicated. These individuals include government officials, people running for office, or people under consideration for a government position. Evidently, President Trump falls within this category.
Although CNN reported that some of Trump's past tweets have not always been in line with community standards — or even broken platform rules — a Twitter spokesperson told BuzzFeed that the new policy wasn't developed because of the actions of any particular official. The spokesperson also added that the policy isn't retroactive and will only apply to tweets published from now on.
Coincidentally, Twitter's new policy announcement comes a day after Trump lambasted big technology companies, including Twitter, during an interview with Fox Business. While Trump has not commented on Twitter's new policy, he did take the company to task for what he believes is its liberal bias during his June 26 interview:
Twitter is just terrible, what they do. They don’t let you get the word out ... I’ll tell you what, they should be sued because what’s happening with the bias ... These people [at big technology companies] are all Democrats, it’s totally biased toward Democrats. If I announced tomorrow that I’m going to become a nice liberal Democrat, I would pick up five times more followers.
Twitter, Google, and Facebook have all emphatically denied that they have a liberal bias, including during an April Senate hearing, Reuters reported.
Twitter shed some light on the rationale behind its new policy decision in its Thursday press release. "Our highest priority is to protect the health of the public conversation on Twitter, and an important part of that is ensuring our rules and how we enforce them are easy to understand," the company wrote. "In the past, we’ve allowed certain Tweets that violated our rules to remain on Twitter because they were in the public’s interest, but it wasn’t clear when and how we made those determinations. To fix that, we’re introducing a new notice that will provide additional clarity in these situations."
The company stressed that Twitter users probably won't see the new warning very frequently, considering all the conditions that have to be met for it to be applied to a tweet. However, the platform stressed, if a tweet does end up receiving this warning, it won't be nearly as visible on Twitter — and will be eliminated from some key promotion features, too.