Twitter casts light on rationale behind labelling tweets; tech-rights group files suit to stop Trump's social media order

FP Staff

Amid the ongoing spat between US president Donald Trump and Twitter after the latter flagged a post by the American president on the ongoing protests against the murder of an African-American man named George Floyd, the social media platform on Wednesday posted a detailed thread outlining its policies and principles and their enforcement process while highlighting controversial tweets.

Trump had tweeted saying, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" in reference to the ongoing unrest in the US following the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed African-American man who pleaded for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck.

Twitter had flagged the post for "glorifying violence."

Twitter had also earlier added fact-check links to two of Trump's tweets, enraging Trump.

Trump had responded by signing an executive order aimed at stripping social media giants like Twitter and Facebook of legal immunity for the content posted by third-party users.

"We believe that healthy public conversation is an important element to enable the achievement of Universal Human Rights for all," the platform said through its handle Twitter Safety on Wednesday, detailing its process to flag inappropriate content.

The platform said that its process was based on providing context to tweets and not fact-checking them. It also said that it does not try to address all misinformation but prioritises on the basis on certain criteria.

The company also said that it focuses on issues of civic integrity an public health as it believes that these are contemporary matters of importance.

The social media platform on Wednesday also sought to throw light on the purpose behind labelling tweets.

"We also believe it's important people can read and speak about what world leaders say, even if they violate our rules,"said Twitter.

Last week, the White House's official account pointed to a 22 May tweet by Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei and accused the social media app of allowing "terrorists, dictators, and foreign propagandists to abuse its platform".

"We will continue to be transparent in how we make our decisions and be open with our rationale on how we label certain Tweets. Publicly sharing our work is core to everything we do. If we can't explain and be confident in our determination, we will not label a Tweet," it said.

Trumps order violates First Amendment, claims tech-rights body

Centre for Democracy and Technology (CDT), a tech-focused civil liberties group on Tuesday filed a suit to stop Trump's executive order that seeks to regulate social media, saying it violates the First Amendment and presses curbs on free expression.

In its suit, the Center for Democracy and Technology said that Trump's executive order violates the First Amendment because it attacks Twitter for putting the fact checks on the president's tweets, which CDT said is Twitter's right as a private company.

More broadly, the order is trying to curb speech of all online platforms and people "by demonstrating the willingness to use government authority to retaliate against those who criticise the government", news agency AP quoted the CDT as saying.

"The government cannot and should not force online intermediaries into moderating speech according to the president's whims," said Alexandra Givens, CDT's CEO, in a statement emailed to AP. The organisation filed the federal suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Trump's social media order had come under criticism from various sources. Tech industry groups had said it was bad for innovation and speech. Civil rights and libertarian organisations and the US Chamber of Commerce had also criticised it.

With inputs from AP

Also See: After Twitter flags fresh Donald Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence', White House points to Khamenei's use of social media app

Twitter is 'interfering' in the US election, 'stifling' free speech, says US President Donald Trump

George Floyd protests: Curfew imposed, more police personnel deployed in New York City as protesters loot stores across Manhattan

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