A top Twitter executive revealed Wednesday the social media giant is considering a new practice of labeling tweets from politicians, including President Donald Trump, that are deemed to be in violation of Twitter’s rules.
Vijaya Gadde — Twitter’s head of legal, policy, and trust and safety — said at a Washington Post event in San Francisco that the purpose of leaving the tweets up with an annotation from Twitter, rather than removing them from the platform, would be because they are judged newsworthy.
“One of the things we’re working really closely on with our product and engineering folks is, ‘How can we label that?’” Gadde said. “How can we put some context around it so people are aware that that content is actually a violation of our rules and it is serving a particular purpose in remaining on the platform?”
The answer came in response to a question about whether Trump can tweet whatever he wants, The Hill reported.
— Washington Post Live (@postlive) March 27, 2019
“There is absolutely a line of a type of content, an example being a direct, violent threat against an individual, that we wouldn’t leave on the platform because of the danger it poses to that individual,” Gadde said. “But there are other types of content that we believe are newsworthy or in the public interest that people may want to have a conversation around.”
The Post’s Silicon Valley correspondent, Elizabeth Dwoskin, followed up by asking, “So you’re literally labeling a tweet, ‘This tweet is bullying, but we’re going to show it to you anyway?'”
“Well, in the context is dehumanization, you may want a tweet that is limited in visibility, and someone has to click through because it’s sensitive, or because you want to provide a context: ‘This may be considered dehumanizing speech,'” Gadde answered.
The purpose would be to “force people to acknowledge what this is,” she said.
Dwoskin noted if Twitter implemented that change it would be taking on a much greater editorial role.
“It’s taking a position on what’s in violation of our rules and what’s not and being very, very clear about it,” the Twitter executive responded.
The Post reported that Trump “has tested the community standards repeatedly” on Twitter, offering the examples of calling former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman a “dog,” deriding the late Sen. John McCain and 2016 rival Hillary Clinton, and retweeting an image of CNN squashed on his shoe.
Earlier this month, Gadde and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were grilled on the popular “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast over the enforcement of their company’s hate speech rules that seem driven by a left-leaning ideology at the expense of those with opposing viewpoints exercising their First Amendment rights.
“Twitter is slowly gaining, in my opinion, too much control from your personal ideology, based on what you’ve researched is right, over American discourse,” independent journalist Tim Pool told Dorsey and Gadde.
He pointed to Twitter’s rule against “misgendering” as a prime example of the social media giant’s political bent.
Individuals can be kicked off the platform if they fail to refer to transgender individuals by the gender they have chosen to identify as.
Pool explained that for conservatives, misgendering means calling someone a gender other than what is biologically true.
“I have a rule against the abuse and harassment of trans people on our platform,” Gadde said. “That’s what my rule is.”
Host Rogan argued those who disagree are not necessarily “being mean by saying a man is never a woman. This is a perspective that is scientifically accurate.”
Gadde eventually acknowledged that Pool and Rogan made a valid point, while adding, “All I’ll say is our intent is not to police ideology, our intent is to police behaviors that we view as abuse and harassment.”
Dorsey also conceded that Twitter does make ideological choices, but said the company is looking to broaden its perspective by decentralizing its workforce beyond the San Francisco Bay area.
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