Twitter has confirmed that it will not be treating Trump’s latest racist tweets targeting four congresswomen as a violation of its hateful conduct policy. The president who has been taking a lot of fire as a result of the tweets accused the four newly elected Democratic congresswomen of undermining his authority asking them to “go back” where they came from. The four are all women of color. Three of them were born in the US while one (Ilhan Omar) immigrated into the United States when she was still a young child.
The decision means that Twitter will not be triggering its flagging system designed to limit the reach of banned content by public officials. The system was first announced last month. On Sunday, president Donald Trump attacked four Democratic congresswomen in tweets that drew sharp condemnation across the country. The president claimed that Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) come from countries whose governments are in “complete and total catastrophe.” The president then went on to demand that the four return to the “totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came from.”
Many pundits associated the tweets with racist rhetoric that implies people of color and immigrants are not “truly” American even if they are born in the country or in the case of Ilhan Omar they are naturalized US citizens. The newly enacted hateful conduct policy by Twitter bans the targeting of individuals on the platform with repeated slurs, tropes, and any other type of content that intends to dehumanize or degrade a person.
The use of negative or harmful stereotypes is also prohibited by the policy. If Twitter had concluded that the tweets sent by the President had violated these rules, it would have no choice but to hide them in a gray box that shows users that the content doesn’t comply with the website’s policies. This is Twitter’s way of removing tweets that have violated its policies but are still a matter of “public interest.”
Nonetheless, it’s very hard to really tell where the social media platform stands when it comes to “hateful content.” The reason for this is actually simple. Twitter is moderated by a large number of people who have the leeway to interpret the rules the way they see fit. This creates a lot of confusion with regards to what “hateful content” actually means. The social media platform also has a very convoluted stance and understanding of racism. The company says that it’s been engaging with experts in an effort to figure out more effective rules on fighting racism and white supremacy on its platform.
However, there’s no doubt that the tweets sent by the president were racist. They were widely condemned even by a number of Republicans. If Twitter wanted to make a statement about its tough stance against racism on the platform, many feel that this was the perfect opportunity to do so. But nothing was done. Some pundits have accused the social media platform of lacking the zeal to act on what many see as very clear policy violations.