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

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

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.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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