President Donald Trump’s tweets will no longer be subject to special treatment if he loses the election to Democratic nominee Joe Biden, meaning his account ― which has racked up multiple misinformation warnings this week for spreading conspiracy theories about the voting process ― will face harsher consequences.
“Twitter’s approach to world leaders, candidates, and public officials is based on the principle that people should be able to choose to see what their leaders are saying with clear context,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement provided to HuffPost. “This means that we may apply warnings and labels, and limit engagement to certain Tweets. This policy framework applies to current world leaders and candidates for office, and not private citizens when they no longer hold these positions.”
Trump has made tweeting to his 88 million followers a centerpiece of his presidency, using the platform for everything from policy pronouncements to bitter insults of those he perceives as enemies. The social media company has plastered warnings over multiple Trump tweets this year, including those about the election, as well as his May 29 tweet labeling Minneapolis protesters as “THUGS” and warning of potential violent federal intervention.
Twitter rules forbid promotion of terrorism and self-harm, direct threats of violence, posting of private information or intimate content without consent, and behavior related to child sexual exploitation. World leaders are subject to the same rules as everyone else, but face only a disclaimer label for violations. If Trump breaks the rules as a private citizen, the offending content may be deleted and his account may face a temporary suspension or a full-on ban.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former strategist, serves as proof of this. One of his accounts was permanently suspended on Thursday after Bannon said he’d “like to go back to the old times of Tudor England” and put the heads of infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray on pikes outside the White House.
An experimental account set up by a private citizen in May that repackages Trump’s tweets word for word also shows that the president’s tweets are only protected by his status as the current president. The account, dubbed @SuspendThePres, has been flagged and temporarily locked four times for sharing the same content as the president, including his “THUGS” tweet.
As Trump slips in vote-counting and his reelection chances ebb, the president has amped up his misinformation. On Thursday night, Trump made an unhinged speech falsely suggesting he had won in the “legal” vote count and accused Democrats of “trying obviously to commit fraud.”
Television networks broadcasting Trump’s speech pulled away or interrupted it due to the torrent of falsehoods. CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale said he had never witnessed Trump “lie more thoroughly or more egregiously.”
Hours later, Trump tweeted: “I easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with LEGAL VOTES CAST.” Twitter slapped a warning label over it.