Twitter Clarifies Guidelines on World Leaders Who Violate Site Rules

Twitter will restrict how users can interact with tweets from world leaders who violate its rules.

According to a new press release, Twitter clarifies its approach to world leaders on Twitter, in particular how it assesses Tweets from those world leaders, and how it makes the decision to remove content from Twitter.

The blog post is offered in the context of the ongoing “meaningful public conversation” about Tweets from world leaders, ground which Twitter describes as “largely new” and “unprecedented’:

When it comes to the actions of world leaders on Twitter, we recognize that this is largely new ground and unprecedented. We understand the desire for our decisions to be “yes/no” binaries, but it’s not that simple. The actions we take and policies we develop will set precedent around online speech and we owe it to the people we serve to be deliberate and considered in what we do. Our mission is to provide a forum that enables people to be informed and to engage their leaders directly. We also have a responsibility to the people who use Twitter to better explain why we make the decisions we make, which we will do here.

Twitter went on to lay out a series of actions that would trigger “enforcement action for any account,” including promoting terrorism, clear and direct threats of violence against an individual, posting private information, sharing intimate photos or videos of a person without their consent, material involving child sexual exploitation and any message encourage or promoting self-harm.

The micro-blogging platform noted it assesses tweets from world leaders against its rules and focuses on the language of tweets rather than potential interpretations or intent of the content.

“Presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules,” the company clarified.

Twitter goes on to state that accounts of world leaders “are not above our policies entirely,” and it goes on to provide a list of violations that might result in action being taken regardless of who posted it. These are:

  • 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.

“Our goal is to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially,” said Twitter. “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.”

Such sentiments come on the back of US presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign against social media and how it can be used to manipulate voters.