Twitter Admits It Doesn't Understand Its Own Policies, After Suspending PJ Media Terror Expert
After President Donald Trump retweeted false videos about radical Islamic terrorism last week, Twitter changed its rationale for allowing the tweets to remain up. In explaining the new reason, Twitter's CEO admitted that the social media platform had misinterpreted its own policies. This was a crucial admission, following the nearly week-long suspension of PJ Media D.C. editor Bridget Johnson, an award-winning journalist and terror expert, with no explanation.
"We mistakenly pointed to the wrong reason we didn't take action on the videos from earlier this week," Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter and CEO of mobile payments company Square, admitted in a tweet Friday. "We're still looking critically at all of our current policies, and appreciate all the feedback."
Trump retweeted three videos purporting to reveal Muslim violence Wednesday. The videos turned out to be old and mislabeled, and liberals demanded Twitter remove them because they would offend Muslims. Conservatives argued that Trump should have tweeted more reliable instances of radical Islamic terrorism, and that these out-of-context videos actually undercut his valid point.
On Thursday, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN why the social media platform did not remove the tweets. "To help ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue, there may be the rare occasion when we allow controversial content or behavior which may otherwise violate our rules to remain on our service because we believe there is a legitimate public interest in its availability," the spokesperson said.
On Friday morning, however, the Twitter Safety account explained that this was a misapplication of the policy.
"Earlier this week Tweets were sent that contained graphic and violent videos. We pointed people to our Help Center to explain why they remained up, and this caused some confusion," the account noted. "To clarify: these videos are not being kept up because they are newsworthy or for public interest. Rather, these videos are permitted on Twitter based on our current media policy."
The tweet linked to a policy statement that "will be updated later this year to include hate symbols and hateful imagery." The current form of the policy noted that "some forms of graphic violence or adult content may be permitted in Tweets when they are marked as sensitive media. However, you may not include this type of content in live video, or in profile or header images."