Twitter: Accounts of world leaders ‘not entirely’ above the rules

Twitter has said that accounts belonging to world leaders are not entirely above its rules, warning that it will do more to limit their reach.

While everyday users face restrictions and bans for breaking the social network’s policies, tweets from accounts of those in power may stay on the service if Twitter believes it is in the public interest.

In June the company announced that in some rare cases it may leave up a tweet from an elected or government official that would otherwise be taken down, instead hiding it behind a notice that people have to click through to see fully.

Twitter said tweets it issues a notice on would not be able to receive likes, replies or retweets, although other users could retweet them with a comment to express their own opinion.

The social network said enforcement action would apply to any account committing serious breaches, such as promoting terrorism or engaging in behaviours relating to child sexual exploitation.

“We want to make it clear today that the accounts of world leaders are not above our policies entirely,” Twitter said.

“With critical elections and shifting political dynamics around the world, we recognise that we’re operating in an increasingly complex and polarised political culture.

“These are constantly evolving challenges and we’ll keep our policies and approach under advisement, particularly as we learn more about the relationship between tweets from world leaders and the potential for offline harm.”

Twitter has yet to use the notices on any account.

The move is the latest balancing act from a social network, after Facebook’s communications head Sir Nick Clegg said politicians could break its usual rules because they are newsworthy.

Last month, the former deputy prime minister made clear that “it is not our role to intervene when politicians speak”, with the exception of paid advertising.

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