Governments are usually not on the opposite end of regulation. The popularity of social media companies, however, is challenging the status quo as Twitter’s latest press release highlights.
The company that pioneered the art of digital short-form messaging Tuesday announced that it plans to deal with world leaders on its platform in its own special way.
According to Twitter’s own safety department, users won’t be able to retweet a naughty president’s post without first commenting on it.
The Self-Proclaimed Regulator for a New Age
The company has not shied away from suspending mere mortals in the past. Here’s a growing list of notable figures for example. When it comes to world leaders, however, the rules are not the same.
For elite rule-breakers the beneficial rub is as follows:
“In other cases involving a world leader, we will err on the side of leaving the content up if there is a clear public interest in doing so.”
Trump’s sometimes illegal antics online are by now well-known. Earlier this month the Twitterati hailed Canadian band Nickelback as quasi-American heroes after the president blatantly infringed upon their copyright.
And who could forget this bizarre Obama Netflix Tweet which mobilized the masses around the fire to prepare for another Trump roast?
Twitter previously stated they would not ban Trump regardless of his comments but calls have been growing from across the Twittersphere in favor of a more equitable approach.
So a rule like the following is nothing short of laughable:
“Presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”
The vague use of the word ‘generally’ here suggests that Twitter likes moving the goalposts whenever they feel like it.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin waded into the debate earlier today, highlighting the influence that Big Tech is having on modern-day regulations:
He compared this to Facebook, which only last year decided to play world police when they removed several hundred pages, groups and accounts associated with the Myanmar military.
What Effect Will This Have on President Trump?
Probably not that much to be honest. Twitter is pulling a page out of Blizzard’s Hong Kong playbook on this one. Twitter to users: ‘Here’s a statement which basically does nothing, but hey, just be happy we’re listening to you.’
The new rules may appear to limit the visibility of Trump’s tweets but the result is unlikely to have any material effects. The only real difference is that accounts that provide
the best the most controversial commentary will receive extra exposure.
Twitter’s most notorious troll isn’t going anywhere.