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Why can't Twitter stop Trump's hateful tweets about Ilhan Omar?

General April 27, 2019

Why can't Twitter stop Trump's hateful tweets about Ilhan Omar?Congresswoman received death threats following video Trump posted – but he didn’t technically violate the rules The rules just aren’t the same for Donald Trump as they are for the rest of us. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apparently admitted as much this week on a phone call with Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar.As reported by the Washington Post, Dorsey, often criticized for his inaction when it comes removing hateful and threatening content from the platform, was asked by Omar why he hadn’t taken down a video posted by Trump earlier in the month. The video, which spliced together misleading and out of context comments from Omar about the issue of Islamophobia with footage of the 9/11 attacks, was clearly targeted harassment to anyone who saw it.Indeed Omar said she saw a sharp uptick in death threats after it was posted. But since it came from Trump, and not an average Twitter user, there was nothing Dorsey could do, he said. The tweet didn’t technically violate the rules in any case, he added. (Anyone who has used Twitter will understand the frustration at trying to parse what exactly those rules are.)The call with Omar came the same day Dorsey met with Trump in the White House, a meeting in which the president is said to have largely complained about his follower count.“During their conversation, [Dorsey] emphasized that death threats, incitement to violence and hateful conduct are not allowed on Twitter,” the social media platform said in a statement to the Post. “We’ve significantly invested in technology to proactively surface this type of content and will continue to focus on reducing the burden on the individual being targeted.”Dorsey has said in the past that the public interest value of Trump’s tweets outweigh the harm of his occasional calls for violence or threats against foreign governments or members of the media“Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial tweets would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” the company explained in statement last year. “It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.”More recently Dorsey declined to say whether a hypothetical direct call from Trump to murder a journalist would be grounds for his banishment.The permissive double standard applied to Trump on Twitter hasn’t stopped him from regularly suggesting that he is himself being treated unfairly. This week Trump tweeted that Twitter doesn’t “treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory…” In fact it seems more probable that Republicans such as Trump are given much more leeway than others. A recent story from Motherboard reported that one of the reasons Twitter has had trouble removing white supremacist content from the platform, as they have largely done with the Islamic State, is that the algorithms they use might end up affecting Republican politicians.“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump once said in a prescient boast.When it comes to his behavior as reported in the Mueller report, as well as his social media habits, it seems like Trump behaves like he can get away with anything. So far he’s right.


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