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Social media websites have grappled with how to handle politicians for some time now. Twitter, in particular, has faced stiff criticism in the past for allegedly failing to apply its rules evenly to those in positions of power – should a controversial politician's tweets be exempt from the rules for the sake of the "public interest"?
So far, Twitter has largely answered "yes" to that question. However, moving forward, the platform is going to be implementing a compromise of sorts. If a tweet from a government representative, or someone running for a such a position, publishes a tweet that breaks Twitter's rules, the site may hide the tweet with a warning "notice."
This notice will read as follows: "The Twitter rules about abusive behavior apply to this Tweet. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain available." Anyone who sees such a notice will be able to hit the "View" button to see the Tweet anyway.
Of course, not every tweet from a government official will necessarily be in the public interest. Twitter has a set of guidelines it will follow to determine whether or not a tweet should be "protected," which include considerations like whether removing the tweet would "hide context or prevent people from understanding an issue."
Rule violations that are particularly serious, such as threats of violence, will not be covered by these new guidelines.
In addition to having a notice displayed on it, rule-breaking tweets from public officials will feature "less prominently" on Twitter, and will stop appearing in "Safe search," some Timelines (sorted by Top Tweets), live event pages, Explore, and the Notifications tab.
It's worth noting that any rule-violating tweets published before today will not be impacted by this new notice.