Earlier this week, Donald Trump awoke and did what presidents have always done first thing in the morning: picked up their phone and got extremely rowdy online. Trump retweeted a number of videos from Jayda Fransen, a leader of the far-right group Britain First. The videos supposedly showed acts of violence committed by Muslims against white Europeans (in one of the videos, the violence was, in fact, being perpetrated by someone born and raised in the Netherlands). The videos — violent and incendiary — were roundly criticized, as was Trump’s endorsement and dissemination of them.
Despite violating Twitter’s expressed rules against advocating violence on the basis of ethnicity and religion, the videos and the presidential endorsement remained live. In a statement yesterday, Twitter said:
“To help ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue, there may be the rare occasion when we allow controversial content or behavior which may otherwise violate our rules to remain on our service because we believe there is a legitimate public interest in its availability.”
This afternoon, the company reversed course yet again, providing a different explanation. Put simply, the company says that while its media policy will be updated later this year to include posting videos like Fransen’s as a punishable offense, it does not yet.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey weighed in further.
In short, the company hasn’t shipped … a policy change. And that’s why hateful, violent videos are allowed to be spread by the president. After new rules “ship” later this month, Twitter will apparently then have the authority to take down those videos. Twitter is a private company that can do whatever it wants on its platform whenever it wants.