Between suggesting cuts to aid for Palestine and sharing praise from a Fox News commentator, President Donald Trump managed to tweet out another casual threat of nuclear war last night. It’s not the first time Trump has sent such a message, but for critics of Twitter, it’s yet another reminder of how the social media company has abandoned principles in the face of the president’s bombast.
Protestors in San Francisco organizing under the name Resistance SF responded with a message of their own: projecting the phrase “@jack is #complicit” onto the walls of Twitter’s headquarters. In an accompanying Facebook post, the group said that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was “[breaking] the rules of his own company” and “[endangering] the world” by letting Trump keep his account. The group says Dorsey should “resign or ban @realDonaldTrump,” and is planning a protest outside Twitter’s San Francisco offices this Wednesday, January 3rd.
The continuing existence of Trump’s account has been a major problem for critics of the president, inside and outside of Twitter. Some have pointed out that a previous nuclear threat by Trump violated the company’s ban on advocating violence, while experts on North Korea agree that Trump’s threats play into the regime’s hands. Any conflict with the country would lead to millions of deaths, and by banning Trump, say critics, Twitter wouldn’t just be enforcing its own rules — it might actually be averting war.
To these arguments Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has given various defenses. For one, he says, the president’s tweets are inherently “newsworthy,” and it’s in the public interest to see what Trump is thinking. Dorsey has also suggested that these tweets help make Trump accountable. “I believe it's really important to hear directly from our leadership,” Dorsey said last May. “And I believe it's really important to have these conversations out in the open, rather than have them behind closed doors.”
However, some say the way that Twitter has changed its defense of Trump suggests less of a coherent policy, and more a set of improvised justifications for a man that makes Twitter his preferred medium for communicating US government policy. In the meantime, Trump’s account is here to stay — for both the threats of nuclear war, and his unwittingly prophetic messages, like this one from several years ago:
Update January 3rd, 8AM ET: Twitter has confirmed that Trump’s “nuclear button” tweet is not a violation of the company’s policies.