Twitter has begun placing virtual warning labels on politicians’ messages that it would ban as offensive if the identity of their authors didn’t automatically make them matters of public interest.
The move, announced Thursday, came barely 24 hours after President
Twitter’s ‘safety’ team wrote in a
But now in some cases it will force users to click on a disclaimer before viewing such material, and purposely depress its ability to go viral.
The move, the company said, would allow it to ‘strike the right balance between enabling free expression, fostering accountability, and reducing the potential harm’ some tweets can cause.
Trump has 61.4 million followers on Twitter, giving him a massive opening to change the global debate about any topic he chooses or start a news cycle to distract the media from an existing one that he finds unfavorable.
Some of his messages have rankled liberals who see attacks on media outlets and his political opponents as beyond the pale and unbecoming for a president.
Twitter released a graphic on Thursday showing what a warning label would look like.
It consists of a message reading: ‘The Twitter Rules about abusive behavior apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.’
Users won’t be able to see or read it until they click on the word ‘View.’
In a Fox Business Network interview on Wednesday, host Maria Bartiromo asked the president if he was concerned that Silicon Valley titans were ‘censoring conservatives’ in advance of the 2020 election.
‘Twitter is just terrible what they do,’ he replied. ‘They don’t let you get the word [out]. I’ve had so many people come to me: “Sir, I can’t join you on Twitter.” I see what’s happening, 100 per cent.’
‘These people are all Democrats. It’s totally biased toward Democrats,’ Trump complained. ‘If I announced tomorrow I am going to become a nice liberal Democrat, I would pick up 5 times more followers.’
Twitter’s announcement didn’t mention the president by name and said it’s unclear when it will single out its first tweet for the new form of censorship.
They also prohibit tweets that ‘promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people’ on the basis of their ‘race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.’
Some of Trump’s tweets have generated public controversy because of his mocking tone or pointed insults.
Last year he called his fired former aide Omorosa Manigault-Newman ‘that dog’ and a ‘crazed, crying lowlife’ after she wrote a book accusing him of being a mentally deteriorating racist.
In 2017 he tweeted an altered video that depicted him as a pro wrestler throwing a person to the ground whose face was labeled as ‘CNN.’
In October 2018 he called former pornographic actress Stormy Daniels ‘Horseface’ in a tweet following a Texas judge’s decision that she owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees related to a dismissed defamation lawsuit.
Daniels has claimed Trump carried on an affair with her 13 years ago and directed his now-disgraced lawuer Michael Cohen to pay her $130,000 just weeks before the 2016 election in exchange for her silence.
In late June and early July of 2017 Trump called MSNBC co-host Mika Brzezinski ‘dumb as a rock’ and claimed she was ‘bleeding badly from a face-lift’ during a New Year’s Eve party at his Palm beach, Florida resort club.
Twitter said in January 2018 that it was hesitant to limit the free expression of politicians who tweet controversial opinions.
‘Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,’ the company wrote then. ‘It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.’