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World Leaders on Twitter: principles & approach

By Twitter Inc.
Tuesday, 15 October 2019

There continues to be meaningful public conversation about how we think about Tweets from world leaders on our service. We welcome the conversation and want to share more context on our principles and process for reviewing reported Tweets from these accounts. 

Context 

When it comes to the actions of world leaders on Twitter, we recognize that this is largely new ground and unprecedented. We understand the desire for our decisions to be “yes/no” binaries, but it’s not that simple. The actions we take and policies we develop will set precedent around online speech and we owe it to the people we serve to be deliberate and considered in what we do. 

Our mission is to provide a forum that enables people to be informed and to engage their leaders directly. We also have a responsibility to the people who use Twitter to better explain why we make the decisions we make, which we will do here. 

Our approach

  • Everything we do starts with an understanding of our purpose and of the service we provide: a place where people can participate in public conversation and get informed about the world around them. 
  • We assess reported Tweets from world leaders against the Twitter Rules, which are designed to ensure people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.
  • We focus on the language of reported Tweets and do not attempt to determine all potential interpretations of the content or its intent.  
  • Presently, direct interactions with fellow public figures, comments on political issues of the day, or foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules. 
  • However, if a Tweet from a world leader does violate the Twitter Rules but there is a clear public interest value to keeping the Tweet on the service, we may place it behind a notice that provides context about the violation and allows people to click through should they wish to see the content. We announced this in June

Enforcement scenarios 

We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely. The below areas will result in enforcement action for any account on our service (without consideration of the potential public interest value in allowing the Tweet to remain visible behind a notice):

In other cases involving a world leader, we will err on the side of leaving the content up if there is a clear public interest in doing so. 

With critical elections and shifting political dynamics around the world, we recognize that we’re operating in an increasingly complex and polarized political culture. These are constantly evolving challenges and we’ll keep our policies and approach under advisement, particularly as we learn more about the relationship between Tweets from world leaders and the potential for offline harm. 

This post seeks to provide clear insight into how we address content from world leaders on Twitter today, and will serve as our statement on the decisions we make, rather than our teams providing feedback on individual Tweets and decisions. We've also updated our dedicated Help Center page to provide a significantly more detailed breakdown of how we make decisions regarding the use of the public interest notice.

Our goal is to enforce our rules judiciously and impartially. In doing so, we aim to provide direct insight into our enforcement decision-making, to serve public conversation, and protect the public’s right to hear from their leaders and to hold them to account.

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