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Twitter is trying to explain why it’s not suspending Donald Trump’s account

Banning the accounts of world leaders would “hide important information people should be able to see and debate.”

President Donald Trump Win McNamee / Getty

Some people want President Donald Trump suspended from Twitter. He hasn’t been — and likely won’t be — and now Twitter is trying (again) to explain why.

The company on Friday published a blog post titled “World Leaders,” which attempts to explain why Twitter thinks it’s important to have elected officials and world leaders using the service. It also attempts to explain why it doesn’t make much sense for Twitter to remove or suspend those world leaders, even if they might come close to violating the company’s rules.

“Blocking a world leader from Twitter or removing their controversial Tweets, would hide important information people should be able to see and debate,” the post, which is not signed by any individual employee, reads. “It would also not silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions.”

Twitter never mentions Trump by name, but it doesn’t need to. Trump is the only world leader currently wrapped up in this conversation at all. Some believe that Trump routinely violates the company’s user rules, which forbid people from posting things that might be violent or graphic or abusive.

Earlier this week, protestors projected the message “Be a Hero: Ban Trump,” onto the side of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.

That happened because Trump on Tuesday tweeted what appeared to be a threat toward North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. “I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one” than his, he wrote.

Some people took this as an actual threat of violence, a move that might result in a suspension for a regular Twitter user. But Donald Trump is not a regular Twitter user, and his account was not — and has not — been suspended.

It’s a bit odd that Twitter came forward Friday to defend itself, in part because it has already done so. Last fall, after Trump tweeted a separate veiled threat about nuclear war, Twitter defended its decision to let Trump tweet by pointing out that his tweets are newsworthy, which is enough to give him more rope than most when it comes to Twitter’s guidelines.

Now, it’s trying to explain that each world leader is judged individually, based on the situation.

“We review Tweets by leaders within the political context that defines them, and enforce our rules accordingly,” the blog continues. “No one person’s account drives Twitter’s growth, or influences these decisions. We work hard to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind.”

The post brings up a couple other questions:

  • Who is considered a world leader?
  • How does Twitter define “public interest”? Some might argue that Trump’s tweets pose a threat to American safety and thus it’s in the public’s interest to have them removed.

A company spokesperson declined to elaborate beyond the blog post.

There’s a solid argument to be made for why Trump should not be suspended or banned from Twitter. As Slate’s Will Oremus wrote this week: “If [Trump] couldn’t poke Kim Jong-un on Twitter, surely he’d find some other way to do so.”

Twitter apparently agrees, and wants to be sure these kinds of exchanges happen where everyone can see them, even if you’d prefer not to.

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