Twitter's Implementing New Warning Labels on Controversial Tweets from High-Profile Users

Twitter recently announced its plans to add warning labels to controversial tweets. The purpose of these labels is to clarify why and when the platform has chosen not to remove a tweet that breaks its rules.

As explained by Twitter:

"A critical function of our service is providing a place where people can openly and publicly respond to their leaders and hold them accountable. With this in mind, there are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules. On the rare occasions when this happens, we'll place a notice – a screen you have to click or tap through before you see the Tweet – to provide additional context and clarity. We’ll also take steps to make sure the Tweet is not algorithmically elevated on our service, to strike the right balance between enabling free expression, fostering accountability, and reducing the potential harm caused by these Tweets."

With this set-up, users’ worries about concerning messages can be addressed, while still allowing Twitter to show the original content. 

Twitter states that tweets from high-profile users are to remain live on the platform, even if they break the rules. Why? Because the tweets are “in the public interest.” This means these users are following a different set of rules to everyone else - this puts Twitter in a difficult editorial area, where it inconsistently decides what content is appropriate and what is not. 

Twitter claims that new warning labels will be applied to violating accounts that meet these three standards: 

  • Be or represent a government official, be running for public office, or be considered for a government position (i.e., next in line, awaiting confirmation, named successor to an appointed position)

  • Have more than 100,000 followers

  • Be verified.

Twitter has also made it clear that even if an account doesn’t meet these standards and the content relates to direct threats of violence or calls to commit threats of violence to an individual, they are less likely to be considered “in the public interest” and will be deleted instead of receiving a warning label. 

This seems like a good balance for Twitter, maintaining both public discussion around issues, while also making its process of removing content clearer. 

These changes should help improve the platform as a whole. 

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