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Twitter considers labeling threatening tweets by public figures, including Trump

Trump lashes out on Twitter

Twitter is thinking about annotating the tweets of public figures when they violate Twitter policies, a top executive with the company said in Washington Wednesday. Included in the category of public figures is one of the most famous tweeters in the world, the president of the United States. 

Twitter policy and legal chief Vijaya Gadde, speaking at an event hosted by the Washington Post Wednesday, was asked whether President Trump is allowed to say whatever he likes on Twitter. 

"One of the things we're working really closely on with our product and engineering folks is, 'How can we label that?'" Gadde said at the event. "How can we put some context around it so people are aware that that content is actually a violation of our rules and it is serving a particular purpose in remaining on the platform?" 

"When we leave that content on the platform, there's no context around that and it just lives on Twitter and people can see it, and they just assume that is the type of content or behavior that's allowed by our rules," Gadde added.

The company said in a statement that it's exploring ways to give users more context surrounding tweets that are found to violate its rules but are deemed to be newsworthy and in the public interest.  

When reported, Twitter requires most users to remove tweets it deems offensive before they can tweet again, but this doesn't apply in all cases. 

It makes exceptions for "public interest" or newsworthiness reasons. "[T]here may be the rare occasion when we allow controversial content or behavior which may otherwise violate our Rules to remain on our service because we believe there is a legitimate public interest in its availability," its policy currently says.   

In any case, violent, direct threats are not tolerated on the platform, even when tweeted by public figures.

Should the company implement a plan to label offensive tweets by public figures, it would constitute a change from the current policy.