Last week, Twitter finally responded to President Trump’s potential violations of the site’s rules, saying blocking a “world leader” from Twitter or removing their tweets “would hide important information people should be able to see and debate.” It was a hands-off response likely prompting many to look up the blast radius of a Taepodong missile. But on Tuesday, Twitter’s European chief tried to assuage critics: If Trump, for instance, doxes someone online, Twitter will apparently ask the leader of the free world to delete the offending tweet.
“If someone tweets private information, if someone tweets someone’s private address, phone number, then they are no-go areas where we don’t permit that,” EMEA Vice President Bruce Daisley told BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday. “So in those instances, what we often say is we ask for that tweet to be removed. So look, were he to do that, just picking a hypothetical example, then you know, those would be areas.”
Twitter’s terms of service prohibit users from posting someone’s private information on the platform without their permission. According to their policies, if Twitter reviews a reported tweet and finds it valid, the user “will be required to remove the violating Tweet and/or temporarily locked out of their account before they can Tweet again.”
But asked point-blank if Trump would get blocked from the service if he tweeted out a journalist’s phone number, Daisley simply stated, “We would caution him to remove that tweet.” Some news outlets (including BBC Radio 5 itself), interpreted this to mean there are some situations where Twitter would enforce its rules against Trump. The company’s European boss, however, seemed to be careful to avoid making such a statement.
It would be misleading to describe this non-committal response as an exception to Twitter’s permissive approach to world leaders. Faced with a hypothetical situation of his own design, Daisley ultimately shrugged, making it clear that even Twitter’s top executives aren’t sure what Trump could do to provoke real action by the company. Appealing to the president’s famous goodwill, it seems, is the only enforcement Twitter is willing to commit to right now.
We have reached out to Twitter to confirm that the company would ask Trump to remove tweets if they included someone’s personal information, and, if he didn’t oblige, if it would lock his account. We will update this story if we receive a reply.