A Twitter executive said on Wednesday that while the social media platform still won’t take down tweets posted by President Donald Trump and other politicians that are in violation of its rules, the company is considering a feature that would instead label offensive tweets when they are posted by public figures. According to a report in The Washington Post, Vijaya Gadde, head of Twitter’s legal, policy, trust, and safety said that the platform is considering a system in which a 280-character tweet posted by the president or another politician that violates Twitter standards would be accompanied by an annotation that expands on the tweet, providing context as to why the company is allowing it to remain.
The idea, according to Gadde, is in keeping with efforts announced over the past year by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey seeking to rein in offensive content, harassment, and hate speech. The idea of allowing politicians to tweet such content without being banned is that such posts made by elected officials are newsworthy and a part of the national discourse even if they explicitly violate Twitter’s standards that purportedly bans harassment and hateful conduct.
“One of the things we’re working really closely on with our product and engineering folks is, ‘How can we label that?’ 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 company has repeatedly defended itself against accusations of hypocrisy when it comes to allowing tweets from figures like the president and others that appear to border on violating its standards regarding abusive language while banning lesser-known Twitter users for relatively minor offenses.
For instance, Trump has used abusive language against his critics and political opponents that would seem to violate Twitter standards, such as referring to his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman as a “dog,” as well as using tweets to repeatedly attack Hillary Clinton and the late Sen. John McCain. Trump has also used the platform to amplify stories to his 59 million followers that link to unverified anti-Islam videos, as well as to post potentially-inciting attacks on figures in the media and other people in the news.
And while Gadde reiterated the company’s stance that there is “absolutely a line” about content, including a direct threat to an individual that will always be taken down, she did suggest that some questionable content should be left up based on who posts it.
“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,” she said.