Twitter provided an update on its principles and approach to controversial tweets by world leaders, but its update was more of a blanket response to future decisions, as no actual policy changes were implemented.
The social network said in a blog post that while yes-or-no binaries represent the ideal situation, these issues are often far more complex, and every decision it makes starts with enabling people to participate in the public conversation.
Twitter added that tweets by world leaders are assessed against the Twitter rules, the same way tweets from other sources are, and it focuses on the language of reported tweets, and not on potential interpretations of the content or its intent.
The social network clarified that content such as direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues or “foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues” generally does not violate the Twitter rules.
Twitter also reiterated the policy change it revealed in June: If a tweet from a world leader violates the Twitter rules, but there is a clear public interest value to allowing it to remain live, that tweet may be placed behind a notice that provides context about the violation and requires people to click-through in order to read the content.
The social network said that while in most cases, it will err on the side of allowing tweets to remain if there is a clear public interest value, violations of the following by anyone, including world leaders, will trigger enforcement actions: promotion of terrorism; clear and direct threats of violence against an individual; sharing someone’s private information; sharing intimate photos of someone without their consent; any behavior related to child sexual exploitation; and any content encouraging or promoting self-harm.
Twitter concluded, “With critical elections and shifting political dynamics around the world, we recognize that we’re operating in an increasingly complex and polarized political culture. These are constantly evolving challenges, and we’ll keep our policies and approach under advisement, particularly as we learn more about the relationship between tweets from world leaders and the potential for offline harm.”