The Corner

U.S.

What Exactly Are Twitter’s Rules?

I would be fascinated to learn what rationale Twitter uses to decide which messages are acceptable and which are not. Twitter explains that its rules “prohibit the glorification of violence” and that its users “may not threaten or promote terrorism or violent extremism.” On these grounds, Twitter recently appended a notice to a Donald Trump tweet about Minneapolis. The site has also suspended users for making claims about the coronavirus of which it does not approve, on the grounds that such claims “could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.”

Twitter is a private company and, within the law, it can do as it wishes. But it seems odd that, for the last six hours or so, “Burn Louisville” has not only been widely posted on the site but has been featured prominently in the Trending bar, too.

Does that not count? The sole exception to the extraordinary protections that the First Amendment provides relates to speech that is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and is “likely to incite or produce such action.” I am not one to ask for censorship of any kind. Indeed, it would be fine with me if Twitter had no standards at all. But if the company is going to have rules, and if it is going to sanctimoniously and publicly enforce them, surely it is in exactly this sort of circumstance that they should be applied? Louisville is on the edge today. Is that “higher risk” different somehow because Jack Dorsey approves of it?