After North Korea’s top diplomat described President Donald Trump’s recent tweets about the country as a “declaration of war,” Twitter explained why it hasn’t deleted the offending tweets.
On its public policy account, Twitter said Trump’s tweets are still up because of their “newsworthiness”:
(For readers who prefer transcripts of tweet threads, Twitter’s global public policy team wrote “THREAD: Some of you have been asking why we haven’t taken down the Tweet mentioned here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/25/553475174/declaration-of-war-means-north-korea-can-shoot-down-u-s-bombers-minister-says … 1/6 We hold all accounts to the same Rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules 2/6 Among the considerations is “newsworthiness” and whether a Tweet is of public interest 3/6 This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will 4/6 Twitter is committed to transparency and keeping people informed about what’s happening in the world 5/6 We’ll continue to be guided by these fundamental principles 6/6”)
On Monday in New York City, North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, who was there to attend the United Nation General Assembly, told reporters that “since the United States has declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot own United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”
His remarks were made after Trump tweeted his reaction to Ri’s speech during the General Assembly, which was harshly critical of the president’s actions toward North Korea.
Twitter’s critics believe updating its “public-facing rules” isn’t the only thing Twitter needs to be better at and that many of Trump’s tweets—which have included gifs edited to depict him tackling a figure representing CNN to the ground or hitting a golf ball into Hillary Clinton’s back—arguably break several of the platform’s rules, including a bans on targeted harassment and threatening or promoting violence.
Critics also argue that Trump already has many other platforms, including the official POTUS Twitter account, press conferences and the presidency of the United States of America, to share his views with the public, and that continuing to let him tweet with impunity from his personal account is not only a violation of Twitter’s own standards, but may help instigate abuse against whatever individual or group is currently in Trump’s sights. The latter scenario is also a matter of public interest because hate crimes have increased since Trump was elected president.
While calls have been made for Twitter to take action against Trump’s account even before he became president, events like his recent clashes with North Korean leadership, the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and Congressional inquiries into how much social media platforms knew about Russian attempts to influence the election, have put more pressure on the company.