Twitter announced Thursday it would attach a new warning label to tweets from political figures when the content violates the website’s rules — a major shift that comes amid growing criticism against the company’s inaction when it comes to offensive posts by public officials.
The move is likely to draw ire from President Trump, who often uses the platform to attack his opponents and accuses social media companies of being biased against conservatives.
The website currently allows certain tweets that violate its policies to stay up when they are posted by public officials. Twitter claims such content is in the public’s interest, unlike offensive tweets from ordinary citizens, who can be suspended or locked out of their account for breaking the rules.
But the platform will now obscure those tweets and slap them with a warning notice that reads, “The Twitter rules about abusive behavior apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.”
To read the tweet, users will have to click or tap the label.
The new policy will apply to accounts of government officials, political candidates, nominees for government roles and other public figures. Those accounts must have at least 100,000 followers and be officially verified.
Twitter also said it would try to limit the spread of such tweets on its platform by hiding them from several website sections, such as Explore and Top Tweets.
“Serving the public conversation includes providing the ability for anyone to talk about what matters to them; this can be especially important when engaging with government officials and political figures,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “By nature of their positions these leaders have outsized influence and sometimes say things that could be considered controversial or invite debate and discussion.”
Trump has been criticized for tweeting inflammatory anti-Muslim videos, threatening Iran, calling former staffer Omarosa Manigault a “dog,” among other offensive examples. But he’s not the only rule-breaking politician on the platform.
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro shocked his followers in March when he tweeted an obscene video of a man fingering his own anus and being urinated on by another man at a Carnival block party. In France, far-right leader Marine Le Pen was ordered to stand trial for tweeting graphic terrorism photos in 2015.
The company said a team from different departments would work together to determine when a tweet breaks the rules.
The new policy does not apply to past tweets.
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