This morning, President Trump retweeted violent anti-Muslim propaganda videos that were originally tweeted by verified user Jayda Fransen (@JaydaBF on Twitter). We are not linking to the tweets or the videos because they contain graphic content; one of the videos appears to be of a person's murder.
It's no secret that Twitter has an abuse problem, and despite the service's continued promises to improve how they deal with these issues, users haven't seen much improvement. The service also got into hot water recently because it verified the account of a white supremacist. The Twitter team later acknowledged that verification could be seen as validation of a user's beliefs, and paused the process to put together rules to address the situation. They now will supposedly remove the verification of anyone who "promot[es] hate and/or violence against, or directly attacking or threatening other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease."
Twitter's terms are clear when it comes to violent and graphic images. It prohibits graphic violence, which includes "any form of gory media related to death, serious injury, violence, or surgical procedures." Additionally, Twitter prohibits "hateful conduct": "You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease."
It's pretty clear that Fransen is engaging in both of these behaviors. Why hasn't Fransen's account been suspended? How is it still verified? This user is clearly tweeting racist, bigoted content that violates Twitter's terms of service. Fransen, who is the deputy leader of Britain's far-right party Britain First, was arrested back in August for using threatening and abusive language during an anti-terrorism demonstration in Belfast. Her "political party" is well-known for racist anti-Muslim stunts, such as invading mosques.
And now the president of the United States is retweeting this hateful anti-Muslim propaganda. Trump has violated Twitter's terms before, spewing bigoted comments and violent threats, and the service has done nothing. In fact, the support team has tripped over themselves to explain why his tweets are "newsworthy" and therefore will not be removed.
We've reached out to Twitter for clarification on both Fransen's Twitter account status, as well as if they will take any action on President Trump's retweets. Even if Twitter suspends Fransen's account, it doesn't solve the Trump Twitter problem. If the president of the United States is tweeting this racist propaganda, and Twitter won't do anything about it, it's hard to imagine that it will ever fully solve its abuse problem.
Update: A Twitter spokesperson told Engadget:
"We are continuing a comprehensive review of our verification policies, including an initial review of verified accounts. We will remove verification from accounts whose behavior does not fall within these new guidelines. We will continue to review and take action as we work towards a new program we are proud of."
"As appropriate, we take action against content that violates our terms of service, including hiding some content behind sensitive media filters. As our Help Center notes: 'To help ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue, there 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. Each situation is evaluated on a case by case basis and ultimately decided upon by a cross-functional team.'"
The comment section to this article is closed due to the large number of comments that violate our rules and guidelines.