Will Twitter Ban Donald Trump? The Social Media Giant Explains Its Thinking
Pleas urging Twitter to ban world leaders began to roll in not long after President Donald Trump used the social media network to taunt the size of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's nuclear button earlier this week. And as calls for a ban have continued to mount, the social media network has moved to clear the air once and for all. Twitter clarified its position on world leaders who tweet in a blog post published Friday, noting that banning or removing tweets from world leaders would serve only to hide vital information from those who need it.
"Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate," the company wrote in a blog post shared online Friday. "It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions."
The social media network said it wanted to share the company's stance on the issue as discussion continued to grow over how world leaders and other political figures use — or should use — platforms like Twitter. "Twitter is here to serve and help advance the global, public conversation," the company said. In outlining why they opt not to ban or remove tweets from world leaders, the company noted that elected officials around the world tend to "play a critical role" in those public conversations due to the "outsized impact" they tend to have on society.
Twitter went on to say it reviewed all tweets published by political officials and world leaders "within the political context that defines them" and enforced their rules accordingly. "We are working to make Twitter the best place to see and freely discuss everything that matters," the company said. "We believe that’s the best way to help our society make progress."
But the company also pushed back against claims that it was Trump's penchant for bringing people to Twitter that kept the president on the social media network despite having tweeted things some argue violated Twitter's policies. "No one person's account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions," the company said Friday. "We work hard to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind."
But this isn't the first time Twitter has moved to defend itself over the company's decision to let Trump tweet. In September, the company defended its decision not to penalize Trump in a series of tweets posted shortly after the president appeared to threaten North Korea via the social media network.
"Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N.," Trump wrote in a tweet posted Sept. 23. "If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" Some felt the president's tweet violated Twitter's rules.
In general, Twitter bans users who use the platform to issue threats against others, engage in the targeted harassment of another, or to abuse others. On Sept. 26, however, the social media network sought to publicly explain why it had not removed Trump's tweet or moved to suspend his account. "We hold all accounts to the same rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether tweets violate our rules," the company said in a series of tweets. "Among the considerations is 'newsworthiness; and whether a tweet is of public interest."
But while Twitter may have no plans to revoke Trump's ability to tweet — or any other world leader's for that matter — the majority of Americans appear to be souring on the president's social media use. According to a new Economist-YouGov poll, 59 percent of people feel Trump's use of Twitter is inappropriate for a president, while just 26 percent think it's appropriate.
Given Trump's fondness for tweeting, it's likely this won't be the last time Twitter will have to defend its decision to allow the president to tweet to his heart's content.