Twitter says Trump's racist tweets aren't a violation of its new policies

Twitter says Trump's racist tweets aren't a violation of its new policies

Donald Trump

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Donald Trump speaks at the third annual "Made in America Product Showcase" on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 15, 2019.

  • President Donald Trump directly targeted a group of four Congresswomen in a series of statements published to Twitter on Sunday.
  • The president's tweets were targeted at four women of color who are members of Congress and US citizens; he said they should "go back" to their countries of origin - a racist trope.
  • Twitter's new policy of labeling tweets by world leaders and politicians that break its rules wasn't applied to Trump's tweets, and Twitter representatives say his tweets don't violate the platforms rules.
  • Twitter declined to explain how the tweets weren't in violation of the company's rules.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On Sunday, President Trump used a racist trope to attack four members of Congress.

"Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," Trump said on Twitter.

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The racist tweet was aimed at four women of color who are all US citizens: Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

It's also, seemingly, a violation of Twitter's rules.


From left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images

From left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

"We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category," Twitter's terms of service says.

But, in the case of the US president and other world leaders who break the platform's rules, Twitter has a new policy of placing warnings on such tweets.

The idea is simple: It's in the public interest to preserve speech from public officials and politicians.

Read more: Trump said 'I don't have a Racist bone in my body' as he slammed criticism of his racist tweets


Sometimes, that speech might violate Twitter's broadly applied set of user standards, and Twitter must allow it because it's from a public official or politician.

The way that Twitter is dealing with that, rather than outright removing that speech, is by putting it behind a notification warning users that its content might be offensive. It looks like this:


Twitter blog post

Twitter is rolling out warning labels for Tweets that violate its rules

But Twitter representatives told Business Insider that Trump's tweets from this weekend - despite using an overt racist trope - aren't violating its rules. The rep declined repeated requests for more detail.

The rules governing Twitter's use of the warning label are somewhat different from the company's general terms of service.


Twitter published a blog post outlining the new system in late June, which included the following criteria for deciding which tweets from public officials will get a warning label:

  • The immediacy and severity of potential harm from the rule violation, with an emphasis on ensuring physical safety;
  • Whether preserving a Tweet will allow others to hold the government official, candidate for public office, or appointee accountable for their statements;
  • Whether there are other sources of information about this statement available for the public to stay informed;
  • If removal would inadvertently hide context or prevent people from understanding an issue of public concern; and
  • If the Tweet provides a unique context or perspective not available elsewhere that is necessary to a broader discussion."

Despite Twitter's inaction, Trump's statement has been condemned by Democrats, some Republicans, and world leaders. He asserted on Tuesday that he "doesn't have a racist bone" in his body, and that he's not worried about backlash to the statement because "many people agree" with him.