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Twitter To Censor, But Not Delete, Celebrity Tweets Which Break Rules

Twitter will allow important sources like politicians to break its rules, but their tweets will be censored, in attempt to balance free expression and accountability.

Twitter said the new rules would apply to politicians and government officials with more than 100,000 followers.

“We’ll now clearly label any tweets which violate our terms of service but decide to keep up due to public interest,” Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey said.

If flagged, a notice would cover the offending tweet and require a user to click on a link to view it -- such as tweets from the likes of Donald Trump, which may break rules, but remain important for the public to know.

Trump boasts more than 61 million followers on Twitter, and many of his tweets instantly become worldwide breaking news as he announces policy or key cabinet appointments. However, some have claimed several of those tweets -- such as when he appeared to threaten nuclear war -- would technically breach Twitter rules around violence.

Critics have said the social media platform has not done enough to police tweets from politicians which would be removed if a typical user posted them.

Some have called on Twitter to take down vitriolic tweets from U.S. President Trump and other politicians, while he and other conservatives have repeatedly accused technology companies of favouring liberals.

The White House declined to comment on the announcement.

Trump’s eldest son, Donald Jr., tweeted a link to coverage of the announcement by the conservative Daily Caller website and warned: “If they can do it to the Leader of the Free World imagine what they are doing to you and your voice!”

A Twitter spokeswoman said a human reviewer --  not artificial intelligence -- will decide which tweets receive the new label. If a violation is found, a task force of teams rules whether the questionable tweet should be considered in the public interest, and taken down or kept up.

“There are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules,” Twitter said in a blog post.

It added: “We’ll place a notice – a screen you have to click or tap through before you see the Tweet – to provide additional context and clarity.” The notice will appear in the home timeline and across other areas such as search, Twitter said.

Trump was criticised last month when he tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” He referred to a former FBI agent last year as a “sick loser”.

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Twitter added that “there are cases, such as direct threats of violence or calls to commit violence against an individual, that are unlikely to be considered in the public interest.”

A Trump spokesman said this week that the White House is planning a July 11 social media summit but has not identified participants.

Trump said in a television interview on Wednesday without evidence that Twitter makes it “very hard for people to join me at Twitter ... and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message.” He added, “Twitter is just terrible what they do.”

Twitter declined to comment.