Twitter on Friday issued a statement defending its decision not to suspend or remove tweets from political figures and world leaders, in response to protests that President Donald Trump was violating its terms of service with tweets that taunt North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Without mentioning Trump by name, Twitter said in a blog post that political figures and world leaders “play a critical role” in public conversations “because of their outsized impact on our society.”
Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” the company said. “It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.”
Twitter added, “We review Tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly. 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.”
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
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Twitter received a number of complaints that the tweet was a violation of its terms of service that prohibit violent threats, but the company declined to take it down or suspend Trump’s account. They have made exceptions in the past for government and military officials, and also take into consideration the newsworthiness of posts.
Earlier this week, the group Resistance SF protested Trump’s tweets, and projected the message “Trump or @jack must go” on the side of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. It was one of several messages aimed at CEO Jack Dorsey that were projected at the locale in an effort to get the platform to curb the President’s social media posts.
“Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, has enabled @realDonaldTrump from his first dog whistles in the birther movement to his latest nuclear pissing contest,” the group said. “@Jack is #complicit. He endangers the world and allows Trump to break his company’s own terms of service to do it.”