POLITICS

Twitter explains why it hasn’t suspended Trump’s account

Oct 16, 2019, 6:22 AM
FILE - This  April 26, 2017 photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. Twitter ...
FILE - This April 26, 2017 photo shows the Twitter app on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. Twitter says it will begin removing suspicious accounts it has locked, denying access to its owner, from how it counts users’ followers. This means Twitter users are likely to see a reduction in their follower counts in the coming days The company said Wednesday, July 11, 2018, that the move will not affect its number of monthly or daily active user figures. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(CNN) — Twitter will continue to take a forgiving approach to objectionable tweets by world leaders, arguing that their messages are often of public interest.

The social media platform sought to clarify its rules for politicians Tuesday after coming under pressure from Senator Kamala Harris, a Democratic presidential candidate, to suspend President Donald Trump’s account.

“We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely,” Twitter said in a blog post, adding that part of its mission is to allow people to “engage their leaders directly.”

Twitter said it was sticking to a policy first laid out in June.

Under those rules, tweets by world leaders that violate the platform’s policies will stay online if they have a “clear public interest value.” In some cases, Twitter will place the tweet behind a note that provides context.

It said “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 rules.

Yet the company has drawn some red lines that apply even to world leaders. It will take action if tweets promote terrorism, include private information or intimate photos, engage in child sexual exploitation or promote self-harm.

The company will also act when direct threats of violence are made against an individual. However, it said that “context matters” and that interactions between public figures would likely not qualify.

“We recognize that we’re operating in an increasingly complex and polarized political culture,” the blog post said. “These are constantly evolving challenges and we’ll keep our policies and approach under advisement.”

Harris, a former attorney general of California, has sought to make Trump’s Twitter account a campaign issue.

Earlier this month, Harris said in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that the president had broken the platform’s rules by using his account to “target” and “harass” the whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine scandal.

She returned to the issue at Tuesday’s CNN/New York Times Democratic Presidential Debate, calling for a suspension of Trump’s account and saying it had been used to “openly intimidate and threaten witnesses.”

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Twitter explains why it hasn’t suspended Trump’s account