WASHINGTON >> Twitter cited President Donald Trump’s “newsworthiness” and the public interest as reasons why it declined to remove a tweet that added to the fiery rhetoric between the United States and North Korea.
Trump tweeted Sept. 23: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” On Sept. 25, North Korea’s top diplomat called the tweet a declaration of war. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded by calling the suggestion of such a declaration “absurd.”
Twitter’s rules state users “may not make threats of violence or promote violence, including threatening or promoting terrorism.” This includes direct as well as indirect threats.
The company responded to questions about why Trump’s tweet wasn’t removed by posting in a series of messages on its public policy account that “newsworthiness” is one of the factors it considers in determining if a tweet breaks the platform’s rules.
“This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it,” one message posted Sept. 25 read. “We need to do better on this, and will.”
The company also stated it is “committed to transparency and keeping people informed about what’s happening in the world.”
Calls for Twitter to curtail Trump’s use of the platform are not new. The company has said in the past that it doesn’t comment on individual accounts, but it has cited the importance of hearing from leaders in order to hold people accountable.
Trump’s account wasn’t affected in July, when Twitter announced that it was taking action, including suspensions, on 10 times the number of abusive accounts than it did a year before.
Keeping the president on the service also makes business sense: Trump’s tweets are constantly in headlines, calling attention to Twitter and, ideally for the company, getting more users to sign up.