September 27, 2017

Why Twitter's never going to throw Trump out for violating the terms of service.

Fortune says:
On Tuesday, Twitter's global public policy team even posted a series of messages defending the service's policy to allow President Donald Trump to tweet messages that might otherwise violate Twitter's terms of service—including recent messages that appeared to threaten violence against North Korean leaders. The company described the president's tweets as "newsworthy," suggesting that Trump is not in danger of being banned from the site.
If you go to the "defending the service's policy" link, you'll see this (click to enlarge):
So the efforts to get Trump booted off Twitter will fail as long as Twitter wants them to fail, since the "newworthiness" factor will always apply to him but it's only a factor. Twitter has reserved the power to itself to decide whether or not Trump will remain on Twitter. It's a multi-factored test and Twitter assigns weights to the factors.

It's hard to see how it would not be in Twitter's business interest to have Trump participating, and not just because he has almost 40 million followers, but because his tweets — especially the ones people point to as violations of the terms of service — get embedded in countless mainstream news articles and passed on in social media.

33 comments:

Ralph L said...

They're waiting for January 2025

rhhardin said...

They're enough of a monopoly to fear the government.

rhhardin said...

The government's business, by the way, includes regulating monopoly markets. It's not by itself a totalitarian reach.

sparrow said...

If they banned him they'd be lucky to escape legal or regulatory scrutiny and they'd absolutely receive the effects of a public backlash. It'd be almost as stupid as insulting your fan base during the National Anthem.

Chuck said...

Nothing good ever happens on Twitter.

MadisonMan said...

The tolerant left, willing to hear opposing viewpoints, raises its head again to ban Trump.

Brando said...

It does undermine the concept of their "violating our terms of service" bans, because if "offensive language" or "threats" don't matter the minute your tweets are "newsworthy" (i.e., popular enough) then it makes no sense as applied to anyone else.

The analogy is I-66 (inside the Beltway) in Virginia--they don't allow trucks (even light trucks) but will allow buses (which are bigger) because the buses fulfill a public policy of mass transit. If the trucks aren't allowed because they're too big to be safe on that part of the road, then buses are just as unsafe.

Matthew Sablan said...

If Trump's tweets break the terms of service, there needs to be a massive Twitter purge.

rhhardin said...

Twitter got big not exclusively through its own greatness but through Zipf's law.

The popular sites attract more people, and the resulting distribution leaves the whole market in the hands of the top few with a zillion also-rans.

Bay Area Guy said...

The Leftist authoritarian temptation:

We don't like Trump's Tweets on Twitter. Do we?

a. Not read them; or
b. Try to ban them

Hmmm. What's a well-intended Leftist to do?

David Begley said...

Twitter market cap is $12b. Trump alone might be worth $2b according to stone on Wall Street.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Just wait until he starts tweeting in Japanese!

FullMoon said...

I log onto twitter once a day, at random times. I joined expecting to see hundreds of Trump tweets a day. Reality is I see more of his tweets here, or on other sites, than on twitter itself.

Lem said...

Big clients get perks. Nothing new.

David Baker said...

"Reality is I see more of his tweets here, or on other sites, than on twitter itself."

True. Twitter has developed so many anti-right filters, it's a wonder Trump gets heard at all.

There was also a time when the average user could hashtag into virtually any conversation, but that feature ended years ago.

And forget Twitter's "Trending" topics, which tend to be a list of pro-leftist preferences and misdirections rather than anything to do with reality.

A shame, too, because Twitter was once such a great concept.

William said...

I would think that the President's tweets would be covered by the first amendment. It's kind of amazing that anyone would think that such speech should be verboten. Maybe it's in the penumbra.

Birkel said...

Trump tweets might be banned. No problem.
NFL players might be stopped from speech while at work. Horrible First Amendment violation.

Ray said...

Twitter has and does other negative options besides banning. It's biased against people twitter does not like.

Bruce Hayden said...

"If they banned him they'd be lucky to escape legal or regulatory scrutiny and they'd absolutely receive the effects of a public backlash. It'd be almost as stupid as insulting your fan base during the National Anthem."

My thoughts exactly. I do expect antitrust scrutiny of Google, and maybe Amazon, Apple, etc. Twitter is likely on this potential list too. They picked poorly in the last election, having bought a place at the Dem's power table, and many have been double nag down since. If they aren't put under the antitrust microscope, the DoJ is even more rotten than I thought. For example - Google was recently called get doing the very sort of thing as Nicrosoft was caught by the DoJ doing - Google was "tying" use of their search engine to their Chrome browser, just like Microsoft was caught tying DOS to Windows 95 & 98.

Another place where Twitter is maybe more vulnerable than some of these other companies involves copyright infringement. The DMCA safe harbor for rebroadcast of copyright infringing material requires that the company doing such not be providing editorial control. I think that the heavy viewpoint suppression going on at Twitter could very well be seen as just the sort of editorial control that would let se this safe harbor.

As for regulatory control intersecting with the "resistance", I think that it was very significant that DirecTV has started letting customers out of their NFL contracts, on account of the protests. They are owned by AT&T, which is attempting right now to get antitrust clearance from the Trump/Sessions DoJ. I see this as potentially a bit of virtue signaling on their part, suggesting to the Trump Administration that they aren't part of the "resistance", part of the enemy, and maybe they should be looking more class sexy at companies that are, like Google, Twitter, etc.

tim in vermont said...

They make lists of users they don't want you to hear and pass them around. Why anybody wants any part of that game is beyond me.

bagoh20 said...

It's pretty hard for the commander of the most powerful military in history to not threaten anybody. It's the very reason that power exists, that we pay for it, and that we hire a particular type individual to lead it. Properly done, that threat can same millions of lives when nothing else can.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add that I inadvertently left out, and most know here - ATT is trying to buy Time Warner, owner of the fake news Clinton News Network (CNN), among other properties.

Yancey Ward said...

I still predict they ban him before then end of this year- they won't be able to resist the pressure from the left forever.

Terry said...

Twitter is not the only service of its kind on the internet. If twitter bans Trump, he can go to one of Twitter's competitors and a huge number will follow him there, if only to see what Trump writes. Twitter doesn't want that competition.

Achilles said...

Reality is he would switch to gab.ai and so would his followers. He could single handedly gut Twitter.

Twitter is majority bots. Trump probably has a huge percentage of real people following him.

mikeski said...

Shouldn't the Left love this? It's exactly their playbook. Make a set of laws that makes everyone a criminal, then only enforce them against people you don't like. (Ex: IRS attacks against the Tea Party groups. Is Lois Lerner in jail yet?)

Twitter likes revenue more than it likes leftism (but not by much), so the "Rule by Men, disguised as Rule by Law" means Trump stays, while any lesser personality tweeting the same things would be banned. Or not banned, if his politics were the correct sort.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

I've personally watched progressives eagerly shred their professed principles when money was at stake. I'm guessing the NFL is going to provide another example of this shortly.

mikeski said...

exhelodrvr1 said...
Just wait until he starts tweeting in Japanese!


That would be hilarious. Every tweet ends with "Baka!"

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Could increasing the tweet limit to 280 characters be aimed at Trump?

Bad Lieutenant said...

"Baka!" is "Fool!"

What's Japanese for "Sad!"

Bob Loblaw said...

Of course they can't ban Trump. Would would want the president of the US using their service to communicate with the public? Who wouldn't want news articles to start "Today the president tweeted...".

And regulatory harassment aside, Trump could deal Twitter a terrible blow by saying "I'm not on Twitter any more, but you can catch me on Gab" or whatever service he decides to use.

Mark said...

What Bruce said at 9:01.

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