President Donald Trump loves to tweet. Sometimes he tweets about how upset he is that NFL players are protesting police violence during the national anthem. Sometimes he tweets about Hurricane Maria, but not nearly as often as people expect the president to tweet about a devastating natural disaster. Sometimes he tweets about bombing North Korea.
On August 11, Trump tweeted,“Military solutions are now fully in place,locked and loaded,should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!”
As many Twitter users have pointed out, Trump’s tweet seems to violate Twitter’s terms of service, which prohibits users from making violent threats. So why isn’t Twitter deleting the threats or suspending his account?
Twitter indicated today that it’s making an exception for him—that Trump is allowed to violate the terms of service without consequence and that the company will not take action against his account.
“We hold all accounts to the same Rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules,” the company wrote in a series of tweets on its @Policy account today. “Among the considerations is ‘newsworthiness’ and whether a Tweet is of public interest.”
Trump is a public figure and the current leader of a major world power. If he decides to declare war on Twitter, it will be newsworthy. If he threatens his political rivals on Twitter (or football players, or whoever else draws his ire) that will be newsworthy, too.
So instead of banning Trump, Twitter says it will be updating its public-facing rules to reflect the fact that newsworthy statements—even if they threaten violence—will have a home on the platform. “We’re putting significant effort into increasing our transparency as a company, and commit to meaningful and fast progress. Will do better,” CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted.