Elections have consequences. And one of those that could be surprisingly significant is the position that Twitter is taking toward the Tweeter-in-Chief, Donald Trump. Now that Joe Biden has succeeded in deposing Trump, he will no longer have the special status that has shielded him from the rules that the rest of have been subject to on social media.
Trump has been a notoriously abusive presence on Twitter. He lies without shame, invents alternative facts, promotes bizarre conspiracy theories, and attacks anyone who has the audacity to be less than worshipful. Just in the few days since election day, Trump has posted 25 tweets that Twitter had to flag for being untruthful and/or misleading. Anyone else would have been banned from posting with that record of violating the terms of service for the site. And now, according to The Guardian…
“Donald Trump could lose more than just the presidency this January. Twitter has confirmed that, if Trump leaves office, he will no longer receive special treatment as a 'newsworthy individual.'
Twitter’s policy around newsworthiness protects certain people – such as elected officials with more than 250,000 followers – from having their accounts suspended or banned for rule infractions that would otherwise lead to severe penalties.”
The wrist-slapping that Trump has been given in the past by Twitter has had little to no effect on his illicit behavior, other than to stir his bitter anger for having been held accountable at all. In fact, he has threatened to alter laws related to user comments online in an attempt to punish Twitter and other Internet media for trying to establish standards of civil discourse.
However, the prospect of being suspended or banned in the future should he continue being a boorish sleazeball is a step forward in compliance with community standards. Whether that will rein in Trump's natural tendencies to offend might be a stretch. But it's a start.
News Corpse has a vested interest in this policy directive. My Twitter account is currently suspended for allegedly violating Twitter's rules. Twitter didn't reveal what the violation was, so it's impossible to know the reason for the suspension. But I can affirm with confidence that there have been no comments that were misleading, untruthful, abusive, or otherwise in violation of Twitters rules. My best guess is that some right-wingers who disagreed with my point of view sought to censor me by maliciously filing false reports causing an automated suspension.
An appeal of the suspension was filed, but Twitter doesn't give any indication of how the appeal process is carried out. So I have no idea if there will be resolution in the next few days or months or ever. If anyone has any pull with the Twitter Gods, feel free to intervene on my behalf. Also, feel free to post links to my articles on Twitter, as well as tweets beseeching the site (@Twitter, @Jack) to free me from this unfair suspension.
It's ironic that Twitter gives special treatment to high profile, “newsworthy” individuals. Because people like that have much greater influence. When they tweet lies or abuse it goes out potentially to millions. If I were to do that it would go out to a much smaller audience. So Trump's abusive tweets have a far more destructive impact than anything I could do, if I had that intention.
The good news is that, with Trump's defeat, he will become another civilian user who will be subject to the same rules as the rest of us. Or at least that's what Twitter is saying now. That won't help me get my account (and my ~7,000 followers) back, but it may protect the American people from the avalanche of atrocious falsehoods and attacks that have been gushing from Trump for so many years.
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