In a blog post today, Twitter announced it will attach a notice to politician’s tweets if the message violates the social network’s content guidelines, effective immediately.
The post, called Defining public interest on Twitter, says the company’s “highest priority is to protect the health of the public conversation on Twitter,” and that includes giving users the ability to share thoughts about topics that matter to them. “This can be especially important when engaging with government officials and political figures,” the post explains.
While Twitter supports the people in leadership positions using Twitter to “invite debate and discussion,” the company is taking action against cases where politicians use their 280 characters to spread hate or targeted harassment.
In the past, users have asked the social messaging platform to take down tweets that seemingly violate the community guidelines. In January 2018, the company said it was hesitant to block access to information from politicians, even if their content seem controversial. Blocking world leaders “would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” Twitter wrote at the time.
This doesn’t mean President Trump can’t tweet anymore (in fact, the post doesn’t address Trump by name at all) — instead, when you encounter what Twitter considers an offensive tweet from a politician, there will be a notice concealing the content. You’ll have to accept the warning in order to see the original tweet.
According to the blog post, the new notice only applies to certain accounts that meet the following criteria:
- Be or represent a government official, be running for public office, or be considered for a government position (i.e., next in line, awaiting confirmation, named successor to an appointed position);
- Have more than 100,000 followers; and
- Be verified.
Twitter notices are nothing new. The social network uses them at its moderators’ discretions to add context to actions taken on certain tweets, like warnings on sensitive material or disclaimers on removed tweets. They’re also used to reduce the circulation of potentially harmful content within Twitter’s algorithm.
The new move isn’t retroactive, and Twitter isn’t sure of when the first time it’ll have to use the notice will be. But this still marks a significant shift in Twitter’s attitude towards managing tweets from world leaders.