Twitter told Sen. Kamala Harris that it would not suspend President Donald Trump’s account despite her urging the company to do so, according to a copy of a letter the company sent to the Harris presidential campaign.
In response, the Harris campaign told CNN on Wednesday, “Twitter is not holding Donald Trump accountable for abusing their platform to threaten people and incite and inspire violent behavior.”
The California Democrat had written to Twitter two weeks ago saying that Trump had used his account to “target, harass, and attempt to out the whistleblower” whose allegations about the President’s call with the leader of Ukraine prompted Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry.
Harris also pointed to a tweet from Trump with a quote that she said “suggested violence could be incited should Congress issue formal articles of impeachment against him.”
In the letter to Harris on Tuesday, obtained by CNN, Twitter said it would not be suspending the President.
“We understand the desire for our decisions to be ‘yes/no’ binaries, but it is not that simple,” Vijaya Gadde, who leads Twitter’s trust and safety teams, wrote to Harris.
“We reviewed the Tweets you cite in your letter, and they do not violate our policies against abusive behavior, targeted harassment, or violence on the service,” she added.
Twitter introduced a policy earlier this year that allows world leaders to break its rules without being penalized or getting suspended as long as the company deems the tweets to be in the “public interest.” However, the company said it would take action on tweets from world leaders that promote terrorism or include direct threats of violence made against an individual.
Twitter said in June it would place labels on tweets from world leaders that break its rules explaining why the tweet hadn’t been removed entirely from the platform.
By October, however, the company had not labeled any tweets even though it has been months since it announced the policy. That’s despite racist tweets sent by Trump in July attacking four progressive Democratic congresswomen of color. Twitter said the tweets had not broken its rule — a conclusion apparently contradicted by Twitter’s written policies.
Responding to the letter, Ian Sams, Harris’ national press secretary, said in a statement provided to CNN, “The point is simple: Twitter is not holding Donald Trump accountable for abusing their platform to threaten people and incite and inspire violent behavior. We cannot be serious about cracking down on the ways social media companies allow hate speech, disinformation, lies, and threats of violence to flourish on their platforms if we do not demand accountability across the board.”
“As Donald Trump uses his tweets to incite violence, threaten witnesses and investigators, obstruct justice, and inspire mass shooters and pipe bombers, this response is inadequate. Twitter is admitting that their rules are a mess and that they have one set of standards for Donald Trump and another for the rest of us.”
“Trump’s abuse of their platform is dangerous,” he added.