Twitter recently updated their policies on what constitutes actions worthy of rendering a world leader suspended on their platform. It would certainly set a precedent if a publicly accessible social media service opted to use its platform to censor a world leader while still allowing people to talk about said world leader.
In the blog, they write…
“We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely. The below areas will result in enforcement action for any account on our service (without consideration of the potential public interest value in allowing the Tweet to remain visible behind a notice):
“Promotion of terrorism;
Clear and direct threats of violence against an individual (context matters: as noted above, direct interactions with fellow public figures and/or commentary on political and foreign policy issues would likely not result in enforcement);
Posting private information, such as a home address or non-public personal phone number;
Posting or sharing intimate photos or videos of someone that were produced or distributed without their consent;
Engaging in behaviors relating to child sexual exploitation; and
Encouraging or promoting self-harm.
“In other cases involving a world leader, we will err on the side of leaving the content up if there is a clear public interest in doing so. “
So basically, threats of violence would definitely put people like Trump or other leaders in trouble whenever they talk about retaliation or attacks not directly tied to foreign policy. But then that raises a very interesting question: what about when illegal immigrants cross over or violent criminals like MS13 are discussed when talking about law enforcement dealing with their criminal activity?
Is MS13 considered foreign policy?
Strangely, Kickstarter considered the violent gang to be a “marginalized” group, which is why they banned the Lonestar comic from their platform because the main hero was beating up members of the MS13 gang. But I digress.
Moreover, why would Twitter update the policies regarding world leaders now? Why not sooner? Well, the reason for the update becomes a lot more clear near the bottom of the post, where they reveal that it’s also about the elections, writing…
“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. “
“[…] Our goal is to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially. In doing so, we aim to provide direct insight into our enforcement decision-making, to serve public conversation, and protect the public’s right to hear from their leaders and to hold them to account.”
This could play a huge role in the 2020 elections if they decide to stifle or censor Trump leading up to the general elections in the fall. If Trump were suspended around the time where inaccurate or unsubstantiated claims are circulating, he wouldn’t be able to counteract them via Twitter, which could prove as a useful inroad for the Democrats to capitalize on fake news while controlling social media and mainstream media without recourse.
We already saw Facebook roll out a temporary suspension on Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Big tech have been constantly updating, modifying, and changing the code of conduct, terms of service, and content policies in order to find ways to stifle the voices and opposition of dissenters, and now it looks like they’re setting their sights on leaders like President Trump.
(Thanks for the news tip Τιμ)