Culture

Twitter will suspend you for wishing death on Trump

Trump has COVID-19 and you might want him to die, but don't try and tweet that.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump has coronavirus, a disease that has taken 205,000 people in the United States this year, thanks in large part to inaction by his administration. Naturally, many people want him to suffer the same fate and die from coronavirus — just don't try tweeting that.

Party poopers — Twitter told Motherboard that it will suspend anyone who openly wishes for Trump's death on its platform. "Content that wishes, hopes or expresses a desire for death, serious bodily harm, or fatal disease against an individual is against our rules."

You'd think that with Trump being a major public figure — notably, one that has openly tweeted harmful content and calls for violence himself, often without consequence — the rules would be applied differently here. Expressing the desire to see him die from the very disease he downplayed despite it ruining so many lives isn't exactly a threat of direct harm. Rather, it's a critical commentary of the way he has handled the pandemic and set America back in contrast to countries that took it seriously.

Facebook (though definitely not much of a role model itself) allows users to post that they hope Trump will die from coronavirus because it makes a distinction between public and private figures. Twitter does not make any such distinction.

Twitter wants 'healthy conversation' — It's not completely surprising, however. Twitter says it considers these wishes against Trump to be a violation of its "abusive behavior" rule, and the company has been working more recently to make its platform less toxic. For years, popular users complained they had to abandon the platform because conversations would frequently devolve into hateful attacks.

Twitter in 2018 even went so far as to create a new metric called "healthy conversations" to measure the tenor of discussion on the platform so it could track its progress improving the situation.

Even though these tweets about Trump violate its rules, it's not clear if Twitter will actually suspend anyone for tweeting out their wishes of Trump's demise. The company says it will prioritize the removal of "content when it has a clear call to action that could potentially cause real-world harm." Hoping for his death doesn't seem to match that description, so we'll just have to wait and see.