Twitter has responded to people who criticized it for not taking down President Donald Trump’s bellicose tweet about North Korea, which led the country to claim he had declared war on it. The tweet was too newsworthy to take down, the social media platform said.
The tweet, which Trump posted on Saturday, followed a speech to the United Nations General Assembly by North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho.
Ri said it was “inevitable” that his country would fire missiles at the U.S. mainland. In response, Trump tweeted: “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!”
Twitter’s terms of service claim the company does not “tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.” Many people have wondered why, given the nature of Trump’s Twitter activity, this rule hasn’t led to his suspension from the platform.
In a thread late Monday, Twitter’s policy team addressed the question. The team insisted that it holds “all accounts to the same rules,” but pointed out the factors it takes into account when assessing violations.
“Among the considerations is ‘newsworthiness’ and whether a tweet is of public interest,” the policy team wrote. “This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect this.”
“We need to do better on this, and will,” the team added.
Twitter has a longstanding problem with abuse that many see as contributing to its stagnant user growth. It has brought in several new measures this year to address the issue, such as making it harder for abusive tweets to reach the eyes of their targets, and banning more people for their trollish behavior.
The U.S. administration has strongly denied that Trump’s Saturday tweet was a declaration of war, with White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders calling the assertion “absurd.”