I have been on the fence over the topic of Donald Trump and Twitter. I thought that he might be of use to the platform looking to grow. With the level of controversy around every tweet I had wondered if it would pull more users into the platform.
After thinking about it I came to the conclusion recently that Donald Trump would not be enough to save Twitter (no brainer really) and that the platform would have to work out their own problems.
Taking some more time to reflect on how he uses his Twitter account I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think Donald Trump should have access to his account at all.
If management at Twitter really have the stones about them they will do the right thing and put and end to the daily controversy which serves nobody any good.
Testing the harassment policy
There is no doubt whatsoever that Donald Trump is testing Twitter’s harassment policy. The week before last he referred to Mika Brzezinski, cohost of MSNBC’s show Morning Joe as “I.Q. crazy Mika” and said she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
He has been using his Twitter account to throw around plenty of shade towards the media, fake news and in particular CNN. Just last week he tweeted and edited clip of him at WrestleMania and, well the tweet just speaks for itself.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
Here’s the thing, we are stepping over a new boundary here from what we have seen on the Donald Trump twitter account before. This was a hateful attack. It was clearly harassment. The man who was elected president of the United States is more intent on using a social platform to spread hate through the tweets he sends.
Twitter has been trying to tackle harassment for a long time
The sad thing is, this is classic Twitter these days except what makes it controversial is that it is being carried out by the president of the United States instead of some troll hiding behind a keyboard in his bedroom.
Jack Dorsey has said that Twitter is taking harassment seriously. Recently they have banned two high profile accounts, Milo Yiannopoulos and Martin Shkreli. Their removal from the platform was very much a public deal and while Twitter does not comment on particular accounts, the company did tell Breitbart that they were banned for violating “prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.”
Now, Donald Trump is a different beast for Twitter to tackle. He his of course known globally but just like the two accounts mentioned above, he has also incited targeted abuse. The difference now is that Trump remains on the Twitter platform and it is time for Twitter to act.
It is a sticky situation
This can be argued both ways, is Trump immune to being banned on Twitter? We could argue that he should be allowed to stay because it gives the world the most transparent view into just what he is thinking. As he holds the most powerful seat in one of the most powerful countries in the world – that could be a valuable insight to have access to.
In the run up to the election, Dorsey was asked about how Donald Trump uses Twitter and if that was the best reflection of Twitter. He said the following:
“As a microphone [Twitter] is at its best. He uses it certainly to reach out to folks and to understand what they’re talking about and also to have conversations, very simply.”
He was then asked in May 2017 on NBC about Trump’s use of the platform and said the following:
“I believe that it’s really important to hear directly from leadership, and I believe it’s really important to hold them accountable, and I believe it’s really important to have these conversations out in the open rather than have them behind closed doors. Um, so, if we were all to suddenly take these platforms away, where does it go? What happens?”
Sure, this may have been the case in the run up to the election and shortly afterwards but now things have changed. Now he is directly attacking and spewing hate towards individuals, whether Twitter want to admit it or not, that is a direct violation of their own rules.
According to their rules, Twitter may suspend an account for a number of reasons including if the user makes violent threats; attacks people based on race, religion, gender and more; or engages in the targeted abuse of harassment of others.
Twitter Terms of Service, Mr President. pic.twitter.com/pow4WNDSYS
— Katie Jacobs Stanton (@KatieS) July 2, 2017
An even more concerning problem for Twitter should be that every tweet he posts of this nature rallies his fans and followers who then run around the platform encouraged to post their own hate, abuse CNN and journalists as well as post more violent images. How he uses Twitter encourages his fans to use it in the same way, just jump into the comments on any of his tweets.
Not violating Twitter policy?
A Twitter representative told CNN that they had reviewed Mr Trumps CNN tweet and decided that it did not violate site policy because there are many ways to interpret it and its political context. True, but what about his tweets directly attacking Morning Joe presenters, surely that is a violation of policy.
Put an end to the madness
Ideally I want to see Twitter put an end to the madness and I would prefer to see Donald Trump banned from the platform. Of course the hole they are in at that point is should they take the step of doing it then his fans would no doubt be running around making a mockery Twitter and causing as much chaos as possible.
Donald Trump has defended his social media tactics and brushed off criticism that he isn’t acting “presidential.”
My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2017
The stakes are high and while I want Twitter to follow their own rules and enforce their own rules, there is also a large part of me which thinks it just won’t happen. With 33 million + followers and people flocking to see what happens every time he tweets, the hard reality is that Trump is good for Twitter’s business.
It just just the wrong kind of business that they are getting. Michael Hawley is a digital media researcher at MIT and he recently tweeted a copy of the complaint he sent to an MIT colleague who works at Twitter.
In a letter to Twitter’s chief media scientist Deb Roy he said that Trump has become “the archetype of a cyber bully” and that Trump should be kicked off the site.
— Michael Hawley (@mjhawley) July 2, 2017
Some might argue, ‘well you don’t have to follow him, you chose to follow him!’ but thats not the point anymore, not with the now direct attacks against people. Don’t follow him is not the answer. What concerns me more is the damage that this can cause to the social media platform in the long run.
Time for Twitter to take a stand and to do the right thing. If the rules have been applied to accounts gone by then there is no reason for them not to be applied in this case. If Twitter is serious about combatting abuse on its platform then Donald Trump needs to be held to the same standard as everyone else.