Twitter to Down-Rank Tweets That Break Rules—Some Say Will Affect Trump

June 28, 2019 Updated: June 28, 2019

Twitter announced on June 27 that it will identify and down-rank tweets coming from important sources such as politicians that break its rules.

The company’s new rules will apply to the verified accounts of politicians and government officials, or those who are soon to be appointed into a government position, with more than 100,000 followers, Twitter said in a blog post.

“We’ll now clearly label any tweets which violate our terms of service but decide to keep up due to public interest,” Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said, Reuters reported.

If flagged, a notice would cover the offending tweet and require a user to click on a link in order to view it.

“We’ll also take steps to make sure the Tweet is not algorithmically elevated on our service, to strike the right balance between enabling free expression, fostering accountability, and reducing the potential harm caused by these Tweets,” Twitter said on its blog.

In particular, Twitter indicated that the given tweet would feature “less prominently” on the platform and not appear in a number of search and other functions on Twitter: safe search, top Tweets, live event pages, push notifications, notifications tab, and explore.

Twitter added, “there are cases, such as direct threats of violence or calls to commit violence against an individual, that are unlikely to be considered in the public interest.

“In instances where a Tweet violates our rules and our review doesn’t find that it would be in the public interest to leave it up, we will require the account owner to remove the Tweet,” the company announced.

The notice does not apply to any Tweet sent before June 27.

Links to Trump?

The move has been linked to President Donald Trump by some, even though the company did not in any way mention the President in its new announcement.

CNBC’s Tech editor Steve Kovach tweeted: “Twitter doesn’t call out Trump by name, but this is clearly a new Trump rule—labeling tweets that violate rules.”

The Twitter announcement comes as Trump alleged that the social media company is censoring him.

In an interview with Fox Business on June 26, Trump was asked by host Maria Bartiromo, “How concerned are you that technology companies are censoring conservatives, and they’re going to do this right up to the 2020 election?”

“They’re doing it to me on Twitter,” he responded.

“What they did to me on Twitter is incredible. You know, I have millions and millions of followers. But I will tell you, they make it very hard for people to join me on Twitter and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message.”

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., warned in response to Twitter’s announcement: “If they can do it to the Leader of the Free World imagine, what they are doing to you and your voice!”

A Trump spokesman said this week that the White House is planning a July 11 social media summit. It has yet to identify the participants.

Not Just Twitter

The latest Twitter announcement comes shortly after Google and Reddit had reportedly taken efforts to suppress content related to Trump.

Google made headlines on June 24 over its alleged attempts to push its own political agenda onto its users, which one employee described as “preventing the next Trump situation.”

The Google employee told an undercover Project Veritas reporter that Google is a “highly biased political machine that is bent on never letting somebody like Donald Trump come to power again.”

Meanwhile, Reddit on June 26 put restrictions on its popular subpage ‘r/The_Donald.’ Now, it is reported that the subreddit, which is said to be the internet’s biggest President Donald Trump fan club, is no longer showing up in search, recommendations, or general Reddit feeds, such as the r/Popular.

“The reason for the quarantine is that over the last few months, we have observed repeated rule-breaking behavior in your community and an over-reliance on Reddit admins to manage users and remove posts that violate our content policy, including content that encourages or incites violence,” the company told the The_Donald’s voluntary content moderators in a message.

One volunteer moderator, shadowman3001, who manages the official Twitter account of The_Donald (@thedonaldreddit), dismissed the argument, saying that “fairly few” of the actions by the moderators deal with “calls to violence.”

After the quarantine, the page grew by about 10,000 subscribers in 24 hours, compared with a growth of about 11,000 a month during the preceding year.

Petr Svab and Reuters contributed to this report

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy
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