Social media giant Twitter on Thursday said it would hide major politicians’ tweets that violate its rules but are still deemed to be “in the public interest”. However, direct threats or calls of violence against individuals are “unlikely” to meet the public interest criterion and will continue to be removed, Twitter said.
The platform said that so far, in cases of tweets that violated rules but were allowed to remain because they were in the public interest, “it wasn’t clear when and how we made those determinations”. The new notice will provide “additional clarity” in these situations, Twitter said.
“There are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules,” the company said in a statement. “On the rare occasions when this happens, we’ll place a notice – a screen you have to click or tap through before you see the tweet – to provide additional context and clarity.”
Twitter will 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”.
The new notice will be applied to tweets posted after June 27. Verified accounts, with more than 1 lakh followers, of government officials running for public office or being considered for a position in a government will come under the purview of this rule.
The company said a “cross-functional team including trust and safety, legal, public policy and regional teams” will determine if the tweets serve public interest.
“This is a step, although a small step, in the right direction,” Dr Zoetanya Sujon from the London College of Communication told BBC. “Of course, it doesn’t stop soft racism or active political disinformation. And it will not have any visible impact on Twitter’s harassment problem. Let’s hope it can spark much better practice around the regulation of disinformation, hate speech, and incitement in political and public discussion on Twitter.”