Twitter doesn't know why Trump's anti-Muslim tweets are still up

Initially, Twitter said the anti-Muslim videos retweeted by President Trump would stay up because of public interest. Now, it says it's reconsidering.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
2 min read

As if there wasn't enough confusion over how Twitter handles abuse on its service...


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the company gave the wrong reason why it left President Trump's anti-Muslim tweets up. 

Getty Images

The social network on Friday said it's still trying to justify why it's leaving up a series of graphic anti-Muslim tweets and videos retweeted by President Donald Trump and condemned by world leaders. 

"We mistakenly pointed to the wrong reason we didn't take action on the videos from earlier this week," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted. "We're still looking critically at all of our current policies, and appreciate all the feedback."

It's the latest twist in a days-long drama around tweets sent by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right fringe group Britain First. The tweets included graphic videos that purported to depict Muslims beating up a man on crutches, pushing someone off a roof and destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary. But what really caused the trouble was President Trump's decision to retweet them.

Critics feared Trump's tweets could spark anti-Islam sentiments and foment violence.

People began wondering as well why the videos remained on the platform even though they appeared to violate Twitter's terms of service, which bans hateful conduct, among other things.

Dorsey in particular was grilled over the service Friday after the company initially said the president's tweets on Wednesday didn't violate its policies and were kept up "to ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue" and "because we believe there is a legitimate public interest."  

Among the critics was Joshua Topolsky, who heads the tech site The Outline. Topolsky asked Dorsey via Twitter if the reason Trump's tweets remained up was because the platform "desperately" needs the president to keep using it so he gets to do whatever he wants?

Dorsey tweeted back: "No, I don't."

Topolsky countered, "So you'll remove the offensive content based on your policies?"

Dorsey did not respond. A Twitter spokeswoman declined further comment.

So far, Dorsey's comments have not been well received.

Controversial material has been a longstanding issue for Twitter. Earlier this year, the company said it won't ban Trump from its service, because of its policy regarding the newsworthiness of his tweets, even if they might violate Twitter's policies. 

The social network recently updated its Help Center section, adding examples on what it considers to be graphic violence and hateful imagery. It has also been revamping its rules on how it deals with abusive behavior.

The White House didn't respond to a request for comment about Dorsey's tweets regarding the videos. 

First published Dec. 1, 3:23 p.m. PT.
Update, 4:48 p.m. PT: Adds background.

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