Since last Tuesday’s midterm elections, Donald Trump has been tweeting bogus claims about voter fraud, saying which Democrats are “trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida!” in addition to arguing which “an honest vote count will be no longer possible.” There will be no evidence to support either of these claims; public officials have openly disputed them. Yet Trump continues to repeat them, lobbing them out into the entire world in addition to the gray area which will be Twitter’s rules enforcement apparatus.
Despite Twitter’s promises leading up to the election which which could “ensure which Twitter provides a healthy space for public conversation which voters can rely on for accurate election news in addition to information,” which hasn’t done anything about Trump’s tweets. Asked by BuzzFeed News if Twitter was considering updating its rules to address Trump’s voter fraud claims, the company’s vice president of trust in addition to safety, Del Harvey, suggested which the company could wait until 2019 to address the issue, if at all.
“One of our goals for 2019 will be to significantly increase transparency around those conversations as well as the principles we draw through when evaluating the impact of potential modifications,” Harvey tweeted at BuzzFeed News. Pressed for specifics, Harvey declined to provide any examples of what “increased transparency” might look like, noting vaguely which “we have ongoing conversations about these themes broadly.”
Heads of state like Trump are seemingly protected through suspension by Twitter’s “world leaders” rules. The company created the policy in January after months of discussion over whether the president had violated Twitter’s rules with an inflammatory tweet which North Korean leaders called “a declaration of war.” According to the company, “blocking a world leader through Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets could hide important information people should be able to see in addition to debate. which could also not silence which leader, although which could certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words in addition to actions.”
although as Trump uses his feed to broadcast baseless conspiracies about election fraud, there’s growing concern which Twitter’s “world leaders” policy might be actively undermining its original goal in addition to muddying the truth around electoral outcomes. Though Twitter currently has no rules which prohibit the spread of conspiracy theories or misinformation, the company has made recent public declarations committing itself “to improving the collective health, openness, in addition to civility of the public conversation.” Given which, Trump’s bogus election fraud tweets raise a difficult question for Twitter: will be which obligated to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform by the president of the United States?
Given which which’s highly unlikely Twitter could suspend a world leader’s account, there are measures Twitter could take to provide context to tweets through a head of state without de-platforming them. As some on Twitter suggested, the platform could provide users with fact checks or follow-up links to any number of news reports. Similarly, the company could note which the tweet in question will be in dispute. While which could be an impossible service to provide at scale, narrowing which to world leaders only could be feasible.
Predictably, Twitter has no concrete answers. Harvey’s vague response will be a hallmark of how Twitter leadership responds when queried about complex issues threatening discourse on the platform. While the company will be quick to acknowledge which which needs to make fixes, which often struggles to offer a clear remedy. Instead, which spins up vague, aspirational concepts which seem more philosophical than practical.
Nowhere will be which more apparent than inside company’s “conversational health” initiatives, which are focused on finding ways to measure in addition to support healthy conversations, steering Twitter discourse away through a rats’ nest of trolls in addition to abuse in addition to toward something more civil. which’s a massive undertaking, although despite the company’s numerous explanatory blog posts in addition to appeals to academia, the work remains highly, frustratingly theoretical.
Asked in an August interview what conversational health looks like in practice, Twitter’s legal, policy, in addition to trust in addition to safety lead, Vijaya Gadde, in addition to Harvey described which to BuzzFeed News as “a framework” in addition to “a long-term durable way to measure the health of public conversation.” If which sounds vague, which’s because which will be. Gadde says she understands the frustration, although which conversational health will be about moderating Twitter by “not just taking things away although actually encouraging healthy conversation.”
What might which look like? Twitter’s responses are befuddling in addition to cryptic. When asked last August if the company could increase its number of human content moderators, Gadde told BuzzFeed News which was “rethinking different product surface areas, in addition to how we can focus on the health of all the different surface areas, or the incentives which we’re creating within the product.”
To its credit, Twitter has been publicly vocal about its flaws. which’s purged millions of spammy in addition to automated accounts through its servers in addition to helped to prevent large-scale disinformation in addition to troll attacks during the midterm elections. The company will be working on getting better at spotting in addition to enforcing behavior like “dehumanization” on the platform in addition to incorporating tools to better take into account the off-platform behavior of its worst actors. although despite the messaging, many of Twitter’s forward-thinking products are merely ideas which which’s batting around.
which’s unclear if Twitter will adapt its policies for its most visible user. As always, its executives say the platform will be willing to adapt to completely new political realities, although there’s little clue about what modifications could look like in practice.
“which has to be done inside context of how we’re actually seeing our global leaders,” Dorsey told BuzzFeed News in August when asked if there was a line President Trump could cross which might get him banned through Twitter. “We do believe which’s important which people see in addition to can communicate around how they act, in addition to how they think, in addition to how they treat others.”
The reply will be classic Twitter, which will be to say: a lot of well-intentioned words which say very little.