The next time President Donald Trump uses Twitter to threaten the leader of another nation, the tweet will be left standing, but users will have to click through a new notice before viewing it.
In January 2018, Trump sent a tweet taunting North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un and reminding him that the U.S. possesses a “nuclear button.”
The tweet was allowed to stand, and Twitter explained in a blog post at the time, “Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions. We review tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them and enforce our rules accordingly.”
Twitter Safety said in a blog post Thursday that in similar cases where it believes it is in the public interest to enable people to access tweets that would otherwise run afoul of its rules, a new notice will be placed atop those tweets, and users will have to click or tap through that notice before accessing the tweets.
The new policy only applies to accounts that belong to or represent government officials, candidates for public office or people being considered for government positions. Those accounts must have at least 100,000 followers and be verified.
The social network said a cross-functional team comprised of members of its trust and safety, legal, public policy and regional teams will determine whether tweets are in the public interest.
Factors that team will consider include the “immediacy and severity” of potential harm; whether preserving the tweet will enable others to hold its author accountable for their statement; whether other sources of information on the subject are available; if removing the tweet would hide context and hamper peoples’ understanding of the issue; and if the tweet “provides a unique context or perspective not available elsewhere.”
Twitter Safety explained, “In instances where a tweet violates our rules and our review doesn’t find that it would be in the public interest to leave it up, we will require the account owner to remove the tweet. Either way, this notice will make our decision-making clearer.”
Tweets that are hidden behind the new notice will be featured less prominently on the social network, and they will not appear in safe search, timeline (when users opt for top tweets), live events pages, push notifications for recommended tweets, users’ notification tabs or their Explore tabs.
The new policy will not be applied retroactively, so tweets sent prior to Thursday are unaffected.
Twitter Safety wrote, “Given the conditions outlined above, it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter it often. We cannot predict the first time it will be used, but we wanted to give you more information about this new notice before you come across it on Twitter.”
The social network added, “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. By nature of their positions, these leaders have outsized influence and sometimes say things that could be considered controversial or invite debate and discussion. A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable.”