On Tuesday night, Trump used Twitter (TWTR) to taunt North Korea about the nuclear capabilities of the U.S. in response to recent comments from its leader Kim Jong Un.
"North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the 'Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.'" Trump
. "Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!"
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
The comment quickly ignited a wave of frustration and questions about Twitter's responsibility to prevent any user, including its most powerful one, from using its platform to threaten nuclear annihilation.
"Does 'increasing the risk of nuclear war' violate the Twitter terms of service?" Ezra Klein, founder of Vox.com,
on Tuesday. Others used hashtags like #deleteTrump and #suspendTrump to call for the company to remove the president's account from its platform.
Does "increasing the risk of nuclear war" violate the Twitter terms of service?— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) January 3, 2018
One group projected the words "@Jack is complicit" at Twitter's headquarters Tuesday night, directed at CEO Jack Dorsey. At least one protest is scheduled for Wednesday outside Twitter's headquarters, with organizers saying either Trump or Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey "must go." So far, two dozen people are listed as planning to attend.
Related: Silicon Valley's 'gut-wrenching' year confronting its dark side
Dan Scavino, director of social media for the White House, responded to the concerns in a
Tuesday directed at a CNN reporter Brian Stelter in response to Stelter discussing on air whether Trump violated Twitter's terms of service.
Carry on w/your night @BrianStelter. While you would love nothing more than to see a Twitter ToS Violation for handle: @realDonaldTrump, you and all of your liberal friends have NOTHING. Keep calling Twitter😭Stop trying to be the NEWS. Just report the NEWS & try keeping it REAL!— Dan Scavino Jr. (@Scavino45) January 3, 2018
"While you would love nothing more than to see a Twitter ToS Violation for handle: @realDonaldTrump, you and all of your liberal friends have NOTHING," Scavino tweeted.
Reps for Twitter did not respond to multiple requests for comment. However, the company has repeatedly said it takes "newsworthiness" into account when weighing whether to take action against an account that might otherwise violate its terms of service.
And the president is, by default, newsworthy.
"Our policy does [account for] newsworthiness as well, and that was requested by our policy team," Dorsey said in one interview last April. "So we're not taking something down that people should be able to report on and actually show that this is what the source said."
Twitter used the same "newsworthiness" argument in September in response to calls to take down a
that North Korea's foreign minister described as a declaration of war.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
In November, Twitter officially updated its rules to make this newsworthiness exception clearer to the general public.
"We are making it clear that context — including... if the Tweet itself is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest — is crucial when evaluating abusive behavior and determining appropriate enforcement actions," the company wrote in a blog post.
On its help page, Twitter now says: "There may be the rare occasion when we allow controversial content or behavior which may otherwise violate our Rules to remain on our service because we believe there is a legitimate public interest in its availability."
Related: Twitter: Employee briefly shut down Trump's account on last day of work
said they reported Trump for abusive behavior on Tuesday after the nuclear button tweet only to receive prompt responses from Twitter that "there was no violation of the Twitter Rules."
I reported 45’s most recent nuclear threat tweet and got the "We have reviewed your report carefully and found that there was no violation of the Twitter Rules against abusive behavior” email in under 2 minutes. Just an automated “nope”.— Rochelle (@Rochelle) January 3, 2018
While Twitter has so far remained silent this time, some former Twitter employees have spoken up about what they see as a flawed argument for Twitter to block comments made by the president of the United States.
"America's not made better by giving voice only to those you agree with or voted for," Adam Sharp, a former Twitter executive,
If @jack & @twitter are "complicit" in providing platform for @realDonaldTrump, then must also say they are "complicit" in supporting @HillaryClinton, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and other voices. America's not made better by giving voice only to those you agree with or voted for. https://t.co/2AdgyCmQa3— Adam Sharp (@AdamS) January 3, 2018
Nu Wexler, a former Twitter spokesman now at Facebook, noted the futility of the effort. "A lot of people want to believe Trump would be a conventional president without Twitter," he
. "He'd just call into Fox & Friends, Hannity, or Judge Jeanine, and say the same things."
A lot of people want to believe Trump would be a conventional president without Twitter. He’d just call into Fox & Friends, Hannity, or Judge Jeanine, and say the same things. https://t.co/kjt42Bb683— Nu Wexler (@wexler) January 3, 2018
CNNMoney (New York) First published January 3,