SAN FRANCISCO — For more than a year, Twitter has faced censure for allowing President Trump to use its service to say whatever he wants. And for more than a year, the company has not addressed the criticism definitively. On Friday, the company ...
The company initially responded to the criticism this week by saying that Mr. Trump had not violated its terms of service, before making its broader comments about world leaders on Friday.
Controversy over Mr. Trump’s tweets, and over Twitter’s role in helping him spread his message, has been building all year. Mr. Trump has regularly used the service to criticize and attack other public figures and private citizens, which has sometimes led to online mobs hounding his targets.
The issue has been complicated for Twitter. The company has positioned its service as the world’s town square, where people can largely say whatever they want. And having prominent figures post contentious remarks can help Twitter’s business by attracting new users. At the same time, the company’s approach to banning users has been scattershot.
In recent months, Twitter has moved to address what will and will not allow. It has been revamping its terms of service to clarify what actions are permitted on its platform, something the company has admitted it has fallen short of articulating before.
In the wake of these changes, Twitter has cracked down on groups affiliated with Nazis and white supremacists, and has threatened to ban those who are affiliated with “hate groups” on and off the service.
Ultimately, Twitter said on Friday, prohibiting a world leader from using its service would be ineffective, because it would “not silence” them but “certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.”
The company also sought to counter assertions that controversial figures like Mr. Trump were kept on the platform largely because they helped Twitter’s bottom line.
“No one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions,” Twitter said.
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