On January 20, Trump Will Lose His Twitter Protections

After four years of enabling misinformation, the company’s CEO previews new rules for the post-presidency.

President Donald Trump arrives at a news conference at the White House on August 10, 2020. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Twitter has long been one of President Donald Trump’s biggest megaphones for spouting disinformation, yet the social media platform has been unwilling to aggressively censor the sitting president. So what will happen when Trump is no longer in office?

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) put the question to Jack Dorsey, the company’s CEO, at a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “What are both of you prepared to do regarding Donald Trump’s use of your platforms after he stops being president?” she asked both Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “Will he still be deemed newsworthy, and will he still get to use your platforms to spread his misinformation?” 

Dorsey answered by first explaining the company’s existing policy, and how it can allow elected officials to make posts that would otherwise violate the company’s rules.

“We do have a policy around public interest where, for global leaders, we do make exceptions in terms of if a tweet violates our terms of service. We leave it up, but we leave it up behind an interstitial and people are not allowed to share that more broadly,” Dorsey responded.

“If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away,” Dorsey explained.

Of course, how Twitter actually responds to Trump after January 20, 2021, and whether he will become subject to the terms of service like any other user remains to be seen. But Dorsey’s acknowledgment that current protections won’t apply indicates Trump could no longer have such free rein.

Facebook may be another story. Zuckerberg did not directly answer the question.

This post has been updated to accurately quote Sen. Mazie Hirono’s question and Jack Dorsey’s response.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate