In a speech on New Year’s Day, Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, offered to begin direct negotiations with South Korea while brazenly threatening the United States with nuclear war. “The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons,” he said, “and a nuclear button is always on my desk.”
Late Tuesday night Eastern time, the President of the United States responded in a tweet:
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
President Trump appeared to be warning Kim of a modern nuclear war. He was issuing, in other words, a violent threat—although the type of violence he describes is of an unusually hideous and mechanized kind.
This would seem to present a problem for Twitter: The company bans most users of its service from issuing violent threats against civilians. Yet when the Seattle-based content-moderation expert Rochelle LaPlante reported Trump’s tweet as a violation of its rules, she received an automated rejection:
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
Twitter, in other words, does not consider Trump in violation of their rules. Why is that? It goes back to a major policy change from the company last month.