Twitter announced on Friday it would not block the accounts of world leaders even if their statements are “controversial,” citing a need to promote a “public conversation” on political issues.
The announcement came just days after a tweet from President Donald Trump hinting at the use of U.S. nuclear weapons sparked criticism that the social network was allowing threats of violence. “Twitter is here to serve and help advance the global, public conversation. Elected world leaders play a critical role in that conversation because of their outsized impact on our society,” the California-based company said in a blog post. “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.”
Twitter made no specific reference to Trump or his tweet this week saying he has a “nuclear button,” which is “bigger and more powerful” than that of North Korea’s. Some activists said Twitter should have banned Trump and one group projected images on the company’s headquarters with a message “@jack is #complicit,” a reference to chief executive Jack Dorsey and “Ban @realDonaldTrump.”
The group called Resistance SF accused Dorsey of “endangering the world” and violating its own rules by not banning Trump.
Friday’s announcement comes less than a month after Twitter began enforcing new rules aimed at filtering out “hateful” and “abusive” content on the social network, including messages that promote or glorify violence.
Twitter, which has struggled to maintain an open platform without allowing violence or hate speech, said at the time it would not cut off accounts for military or government entities.
Friday’s statement left open the possibility however that Twitter could remove specific tweets from political leaders that violate its policies. “We review tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly,” the statement said. “No one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions. We work hard to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind.”