Having twisted itself in knots over the last few years trying to defend its free-speech absolutism as its platform grew increasingly toxic, Twitter has recently earned a lot of flack for continuing to offer Donald Trump a place to drop his bad ideas. Following a couple of fumbled attempts and a recent purge of some prominent far-right users, Twitter is giving the question “Why is Trump still on Twitter?” another shot.
In a short blog post, the company writes, “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.”
In other words, it’s because he’s the president, and he has a million different ways to speak to the public, so why not let him lose his mind on Twitter instead of somewhere else?
The company goes on to say, “No one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions,” (yeah right) and that it works to remain “unbiased.”
This is probably as straightforward an articulation of Twitter’s messy internal thinking as we’re going to get. “He’s the president, duh” makes more sense than most of the reasons Twitter has tried to supply. It certainly tracks better than that Trump isn’t violating the site’s terms of service (he threatened nuclear war?) or that he’s newsworthy (which he is, but … ). Donald Trump is the president, and much as online platforms want to seem egalitarian, the president of the United States is a protected class of one single person. If you don’t buy that justification, fine, but at least it’s now out there in the open.