So, one of the most powerful people in the world, Donald Trump, is locked in a war of words with Kim Jong Un. Us Irish have been frantically Googling World War III despite experts reassuring everyone a North Korean war is unlikely.
The North Korean dictator has picked the national media as his weapon of choice against Trump. The Donald picked Twitter, a platform that limits what you can say to 140 characters. Wise move there Donald.
I love Twitter…. it's like owning your own newspaper— without the losses.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2012
Trump’s use of Twitter has become increasingly aggressive in recent weeks as he berates the North Korean dictator following a series of Pyongyang nuclear tests. In a recent tweet, Trump basically said he’s willing to rid the world of North Korea. Of course, this is far from the first time Trump has been vocal in his aggression towards North Korea:
Trump issues stern warning to North Korea, saying they could face "fire and fury like the world has never seen" https://t.co/sfyzT1kZUh
— CNN (@CNN) August 8, 2017
But when he vocalised that aggression on Twitter, isn’t he breaching Twitter’s Terms of Service?
What Twitter Terms of Service is Trump Breaching
To protect their online community, Twitter enforces a set of rules held in their Terms of Service. In short, these rules are designed to prevent violent threats (direct or indirect), harassment and hateful conduct, among other things.
When Trump decided to Tweet a GIF of him taking down a CNN logo, not only was he being incredibly childish, he was also promoting violence to a certain extent:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
Now, I’ll immediately admit that’s probably a reach and is certainly a forgivable grey area for Twitter to find itself in.
Trump’s Tweet on Muslims Traveling
Trump went well beyond the grey area when he tweeted following the Brussels attack in 2016, before his presidency.
Incompetent Hillary, despite the horrible attack in Brussels today, wants borders to be weak and open-and let the Muslims flow in. No way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2016
This tweet clearly breached Twitter rules on hateful conduct targeting based on religious belief. What followed was Trump’s executive order to block travellers from certain countries based purely on their national origin. Again, Twitter took no action against Trump.
But he didn’t calm down once he became president either.
Trump Implying the Destruction of North Korea
Yeah, that headline should tick pretty much every box in the Twitter Terms of Service. In one tweet, the Donald threatened to wipe out North Korea’s leadership.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Within the context of Trump’s earlier “fire and fury” statement, this is unlikely to be an attack with surgical precision which will impact some of North Korea’s 25 million person population.
Twitter simply can’t ignore the fact that Trump’s tweet is a clearly violent threat of violence, so why won’t Trump’s Twitter account be deleted?
Why Twitter Won’t Block Trump
A quick look at Google trends shows international interest in Twitter has been in decline over the past few years:
Trump’s presence on the platform has arrested that decline to a certain extent. One expert claims Trump’s immediate value to Twitter is around $2 billion – one-fifth the company’s overall value. So why would they get rid of him?
Regardless of his value to the company, Twitter needs a reason to justify keeping him. When asked by Wired if they would block Trump for inappropriate tweets, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said:
“We are going to hold all accounts to the same standards. Our policy does [account for] newsworthiness as well, and that was requested by our policy team. So we’re not taking something down that people should be able to report on and actually show that this is what the source said. It’s really important to make sure that we provide that source for the right reporting, and to minimize bias in articles.”
Will Twitter Ever Block Trump?
Yes. It does seem like it’s only a matter of time before Trump crosses some sort of line that Twitter deems unforgivable. Trump himself polices his own followership, banning the likes of Stephen King, which is why we created this workaround.
Chances are that will happen sometime after his presidency, whether that takes a full term of not remains to be seen.