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Twitter Links Trump Focus to Policy of Preventing Greatest Harm

Kurt Wagner and Vlad Savov

(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. defended its recent decision to label some of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets, but also said world leaders’ comments on the social media service will stay up, even if they break the company’s rules.

In a reiteration of established policies, which Twitter calls its health principles, the company published a series of tweets on Tuesday explaining its rationale after it had been heavily criticized by Trump and other conservative politicians. Their allegation had been that Twitter’s actions exhibited political bias, whereas the company stressed that its top priority was to “decrease potential for likely harm.”

Twitter added labels to tweets by the president on May 26 that it said violated its misinformation policy. Three days later, Twitter slapped a rule-violation notice on another post by Trump warning protesters in Minnesota that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Read more: Twitter-Trump Tension Mounts on Warning Over Shooting Tweet

“We are NOT attempting to address all misinformation,” the company’s @twittersafety account wrote on Tuesday. “Instead, we prioritize based on the highest potential for harm, focusing on manipulated media, civic integrity, and Covid-19. Likelihood, severity and type of potential harm — along with reach and scale — factor into this.”

Still, the company has resisted other calls to drop Trump from its service entirely. “It’s important people can read and speak about what world leaders say, even if they violate our rules,” Twitter wrote on Tuesday.

The San Francisco-based company said it “shouldn’t determine the truthfulness of tweets,” but tries to “provide context to help people make up their own minds in cases where the substance of a Tweet is disputed.”

“Hence, our focus is on providing context, not fact-checking,” it added.

(Updates with additional context from second paragraph)

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