Twitter is now asking for public feedback about how world leaders should be subject to the same rules as the general users. They are asking people’s input on the kind of enforcement they think would be right if a world leader violates engagement rules.
In a blog post, the company said that government officials and politicians are continuously evolving in terms of how they use Twitter. For this reason, the company wants its policies to stay relevant to the constantly changing nature of political discourse on the platform. In addition, Twitter wants to protect the public conversation’s health.
Additionally, Twitter noted that it is also consulting with civil society organizations, human rights experts, and academics worldwide about the matter. The suggestions of these professionals will then be reflected when the platform’s policies are revised in the future.
Public Feedback Will Be in Form of a Survey
Moreover, the public feedback will be taken in the form of a survey. It will be open until April 12. In addition, Twitter said that it would publicize 13 more versions of the study in different languages. This survey will ask the participants about the kind of action that the platform should take when an elected official or a political candidate published misleading information regarding the elections. They will also be asked what should be done if these politicians have violated the platform’s rules multiple times.
In addition, Twitter will be asking the participants their incites about COVID-19 misinformation. The survey will ask about what needs to be done if a high-ranking government official from a different country makes false claims about untested COVID-19 cures in the country where the users are in. Apart from that, it asks how to handle situations when officials have published false claims about the virus in their own countries.
Moreover, the survey will also ask questions about threats of violence and hate speech that world leaders have against their countries’ citizens or people from other countries.
Each of the aforementioned hypothetical situations written in the survey will note if it is the world leader’s first offense or a repeated violation.
Twitter Was Criticized For Its Content Moderation Rules
In recent months, Republican lawmakers have criticized the micro-blogging platform due to its content moderation policies. During congressional hearings, Senators Ted Cruz, Roger Wicker, and Lindsey Graham accused that the platform’s policies unfairly silence the conservatives.
In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing held in October, Wicker put Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, under heavy pressure through a question. Then, Wicker, the chairman of the committee, asked Dorsey why the company took months before labeling a tweet published by a Chinese community party spokesperson. The tweet in question claimed that the US military should be blamed for the proliferation of COVID-19. Dorsey was also questioned why it immediately labeled a post published by former President Donald Trump where he claimed that mail-in ballots are prone to fraud.
Moreover, Wicker told the Twitter CEO that the platform lets foreign dictators post propaganda without any restriction. However, it routinely restricts Trump, who was the US president then. Dorsey replied that the company has already done some action against tweets published by leaders from around the world. In addition, it is now considering the severity of the possible harm that these tweets that violate Twitter’s rules of engagement can do.
Dorsey also added that the company believes that everyone must hear from world leaders. For this reason, they want to ensure that they are honoring their freedom to speak up and publish the information they need to.
Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran, took Twitter his call to destruct Israel. Wicker asked Dorsey why these tweets were neve labeled nor removed from the platform. Dorsey then replied that the company did not find those tweets to violate their terms of service. The reason is that Twitter considers those as saber-rattling, a part of the speech of world leaders together with other countries. He also said that Twitter believes that speech against a leader’s own people or a country’s own citizens is different and can cause more harm.
What Do Twitter Followers Want To See From World Leader’s Accounts?
After the fatal riots that happened at the US capitol just this January, the micro-blogging platform permanently suspended the Twitter account of former President Donald Trump. The reason for this suspension is “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Similarly, Facebook has also suspended Trump’s account indefinitely. But eventually, it referred the case to its oversight board in late January.
The board has the final say if it will overturn the decision of Facebook to ban Trump. It is expected that it will issue the decision in the weeks to come. While many want to see Trump return and want him to grow his Twitter Followers to higher numbers than ever, it seems it won’t be happening.
Dorsey, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The hearing will focus on the dissemination of disinformation and misinformation across online platforms. It will also tackle how false information related to the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in real-life consequences for public health.
According to Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., the chair of the aforementioned committee, big tech has long failed to acknowledge its role in elevating false information to their online audience. For this reason, they should start the work of changing incentives driving social media giants to let and promote disinformation and misinformation.
Furthermore, there is no denying that social media giants play a significant role in disseminating information. For this reason, they should be cautious in the way that their policies work. This is to ensure that their audiences are not fed with false news that can potentially be harmful.