WASHINGTON: Twitter said on Thursday (Jun 27) it would identify and de-emphasise tweets that broke its rules but came from important sources, such as politicians, in order to strike a balance between free expression and accountability.
The new feature comes as Twitter has been under scrutiny over political bias over the tweets that appear on its feed and from critics who claim it has not done enough to police tweets from politicians that would be removed if a typical user posted them.
US President Donald Trump, an avid Twitter user with more than 61 million followers, and other conservatives have repeatedly accused technology companies of being biased against them and of favouring liberals.
"We'll now clearly label any tweets which violate our terms of service but decide to keep up due to public interest," Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey said.
If flagged, the notice would cover the offending tweet and require a user to click on a link to view it.
Twitter said the new rules would apply to politicians and government officials with more than 100,000 followers. Some critics have called on Twitter to take down vitriolic tweets from Trump and other politicians.
"There are certain cases where it may be in the public's interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules," Twitter said in a blog post.
In the past, Twitter had allowed such tweets to remain on its feed as they were in public interest, the company said.
Now, it added, "We'll place a notice – a screen you have to click or tap through before you see the Tweet – to provide additional context and clarity."
The notice will appear in the home timeline and across other areas such as search, Twitter said.
Twitter added that "there are cases, such as direct threats of violence or calls to commit violence against an individual, that are unlikely to be considered in the public interest."
The White House did not immediately comment. A Trump spokesman said this week the White House is planning a July 11 social media summit at the White House but has not identified participants.
Trump said in a television interview on Wednesday without evidence that Twitter makes it "very hard for people to join me at Twitter ... and they make it very much harder for me to get out the message." He added "Twitter is just terrible what they do." Twitter declined to comment.