Twitter is never, ever going to ban or otherwise take direct action against the president, who besides being the site’s number one power user has in the past skirted uncomfortably close to using it as ground zero for nuclear war. The logic goes that as the president, Trump’s tweets are inherently newsworthy—a sensible argument in principle, though the outcome of that has been that Trump’s account enjoys de facto immunity from the rules governing every other Twitter user.
Social media platforms, however, have been rushing to show how much they care about election integrity since the debacle in 2016 (have you heard about Facebook’s War Room?). Twitter in particular promised before the midterms that it would take steps to “ensure that Twitter provides a healthy space for public conversation that voters can rely on for accurate election news and information.” This is entirely dissonant with the impunity with which Trump has used his account to spread bogus of electoral fraud in Florida, portraying the ongoing recount in a Senate race there as involving “forged” ballots and “found” votes. (Spoilers: He’s lying.)
According to a Tuesday report from BuzzFeed News, Twitter is dodging the subject of what to do about this like a cowboy having revolvers fired at his feet:
Asked by BuzzFeed News if Twitter was considering updating its rules to address Trump’s voter fraud claims, the company’s vice president of trust and safety, Del Harvey, suggested that the company would wait until 2019 to address the issue, if at all.
“One of our goals for 2019 is to significantly increase transparency around those conversations as well as the principles we draw from when evaluating the impact of potential changes,” Harvey tweeted at BuzzFeed News. Pressed for specifics, Harvey declined to provide any examples of what “increased transparency” might look like, noting vaguely that “we have ongoing conversations about these themes broadly.”
So, to recap, Twitter will be more transparent about the ongoing conversation around either the president’s tweets, or maybe just the ongoing discussion about tweets in general, and the principles involved in that discussion, sometime in 2019. Maybe. The recount will be over by then, so you know, water under the bridge and all that.
BuzzFeed pointed out that one potential solution is introducing fact-checking features that would appear under the president’s tweets—though it’s hard to imagine how that would put any noticeable dent in his ability to continue spreading misinformation. Besides, Trump would just get angry about that too.
In any case, if Twitter would like to have a conversation about the ongoing conversations about the public conversation, maybe they could call up the president. I hear he really likes talking.