Every few months, a pack of online idealists inevitably get themselves together, collect up Donald Trump’s latest batch of tweets violating Twitter’s terms of service, and dump them at the company’s doorstep, a hopeful look in their eyes. And, just like clockwork, Twitter sweeps those complaints under the rug, and then goes and finds whoever’s been posting the worst performance numbers lately and forces them to draft a new statement explaining why threatening nuclear war as part of a not-terribly elaborate dick-measuring metaphor doesn’t constitute a violation of its terms and policies.
The company’s line used to be that Trump’s tweets were inherently “newsworthy,” and, thus, it was part of the company’s remit as a journalistic organization (?) to keep them where every person could see them. Now, it’s trying a different line, establishing a policy that makes it as clear as they possibly can: We’re not going to ban him. Please stop asking.
Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate. It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.
The new bar for un-banability appears to be “elected world leader,” although the company remains vague on how far that protection goes. (Is Mike Pence unbannable? What about Paul Ryan?) The new explanation is that Twitter would be doing you, the consumer, a disservice by disallowing you from seeing the words of Donald J. Trump, American president, whenever he squats down on the terlet to crap a new batch out. (Which somehow doesn’t translate into stopping him from blocking specific individuals from seeing these vital presidential missives whenever he wants, of course.)
Twitter’s latest post on the subject ended with a reminder that the company is doing this for your own good, and not because Trump’s use of the platform is a major feather in its hat. “We review Tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly,” a company spokesperson wrote. “No one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions. We work hard to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind,” it finished, a silent “For the love of god, please stop yelling at us” echoing in the ensuing white space, totally unheard.