After President Trump shared three inflammatory anti-Muslim videos on Twitter this week, the social media company defended its decision to leave the posts online, saying Friday that the commander in chief’s retweets did not violate its media policies.
The videos — whose authenticity could not be independently verified — were originally posted by a far-right British activist, Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First. The organization bills itself as a political party but has been widely condemned as an extremist group that targets mosques and Muslims. The videos drew a swift backlash from across Britain, including a sharp rebuke from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who said that Trump was “wrong” to retweet the messages from a “hateful organization.”
Britain First has posted a number of misleading videos on Twitter, and the three that Trump shared were titled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!,” “Muslim destroys a statue of Virgin Mary!” and “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”
Earlier this week, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN, “To help ensure people have an opportunity to see every side of an issue, 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.”
The spokesperson said that each situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
But on Friday, Twitter appeared to alter its justification for not removing the offensive videos, which Trump shared with his 43 million followers.
“Earlier this week Tweets were sent that contained graphic and violent videos,” Twitter said in a string of posts on its safety account. “We pointed people to our Help Center to explain why they remained up, and this caused some confusion. To clarify: these videos are not being kept up because they are newsworthy or for public interest. Rather, these videos are permitted on Twitter based on our current media policy.”
Twitter declined to comment on the matter to The Washington Post.
Chief executive Jack Dorsey said on Twitter, "We mistakenly pointed to the wrong reason we didn’t take action on the videos from earlier this week. We’re still looking critically at all of our current policies, and appreciate all the feedback."
Twitter's media policy states, “Some forms of graphic violence or adult content may be permitted in Tweets when they are marked as sensitive media.” By the end of the year, the company said in its policy statement, the policy will be updated “to include hate symbols and hateful imagery.”