November 3, 2017; Washington Post
President Trump’s Twitter account—the one he uses to prod and threaten adversaries—was deactivated yesterday by an employee on the way out of the company.
The 11-minute silencing caused some to hope the account had been deactivated by Twitter for violating the site’s terms and conditions, as has been done in the past with others. But, as it happens, that was not the case—even though in September, Trump tweeted what many interpreted as a threat toward North Korea in seeming violation of Twitter’s rules against violent threats. As the Washington Post reports:
Twitter said it would not remove the tweet or suspend Trump’s account, explaining that the company takes a number of factors into account when faced with controversial user-generated content, including its “newsworthiness” and whether it has “public interest.”
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Twitter added that it stands by its commitment to “keeping people informed about what’s happening in the world.”
Twitter and other tech companies, meanwhile, have lately been under greater scrutiny for the way they have been abused by Russians to spread false information during the elections and otherwise. In testimony to Congress this week, Twitter acknowledged that 2,752 accounts controlled by Russian operatives have been identified, along with around 36,000 bots that issued 1.4 million tweets during the election.
The closing of Trump’s account, welcome as it may have been for some, brings questions about the dangers inherent in having Trump’s communication habits back in the spotlight. This, of course, should be taken quite seriously.—Ruth McCambridge