Social media platform Twitter has begun adding labels to tweets from certain verified accounts that break the site’s rules rather than deleting or removing them, which will affect tweets by President Donald Trump that Twitter decides are inappropriate for its platform. The site will also “deprioritize” labeled tweets, so fewer people will see them.
The Washington Post reports that social media platform Twitter has implemented a feature which it has previously considered — the labeling of rule-breaking tweets. The company will now label tweets from verified poltical candidates and government officials with more than 100,000 followers, including President Trump, if the tweet breaks the site’s rules. This is in an attempt to draw attention to the site’s disapproval of the tweet without outright removing them.
Before users can view the content of a newly flagged tweet, they will have to click a screen which states: “The Twitter Rules about abusive behavior apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.” Twitter also plans to form a new team with the aim of enforcing the new policy and notification label which the company claims will only appear on rare occasions.
Labeled tweets will also be deprioritized by the website’s algorithm and search bar so fewer people will see them. The policy is to go into effect immediately but will not be applied retroactively, the company claims.
“In the past, we’ve allowed certain Tweets that violated our rules to remain on Twitter because they were in the public’s interest, but it wasn’t clear when and how we made those determinations,” the company said in a blog post. “To fix that, we’re introducing a new notice that will provide additional clarity in these situations, and sharing more on when and why we’ll use it.”
Breitbart News reported in March that the company was considering implementing such a feature. Twitter’s head of legal, policy and trust, Vijaya Gadde, said at the time: “One of the things we’re working really closely on with our product and engineering folks is, ‘How can we label that?’” Gadde said, not specifically referring to President Trump. “How can we put some context around it so people are aware that that content is actually a violation of our rules and it is serving a particular purpose in remaining on the platform.”
Gadde stated at the time that certain types of tweets will still constitute a bannable offense, “An example would be a direct violent threat against an individual that we wouldn’t leave on the platform because of the danger it poses to that individual,” she said. But as Twitter has proven in the past, tweets calling for violence are not always removed from the platform and users are not always banned. Jack Dorsey’s company allowed verified accounts to make calls for violence against conservative high school students during the Covington hate hoax, for example.
The Washington Post correctly notes that the new labeling policy will likely result in a flood of complaints from users attempting to have tweets made by figures such as President Trump labeled and deprioritized by Twitter.