President Donald Trump tweeted a video on Friday featuring out-of-context remarks from Rep. Ilhan Omar that she made during a civil rights speech edited together with graphic footage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
As a result of the President’s inflammatory tweet, the number of death threats directed at Rep. Omar skyrocketed over the course of the weekend. Cybersecurity expert Chad Loder says he was able to identify hundreds of direct threats against the congresswoman, according to the Washington Post.
Now, Buzzfeed reports that Twitter deliberately left many of those threatening tweets online so that law enforcement could investigate them. According to BuzzFeed, Twitter has been collaborating with Capitol Hill police to investigate many of the death threats since Friday.
The circumstance is quite unusual for Twitter. The company typically abides by a strict violence policy that would have removed the tweets shortly after they were reported by users. But in this rare instance, the company chose to leave them up in order to better collaborate with law enforcement.
“Death threats, incitement to violence, and hateful conduct are absolutely unacceptable on Twitter,” said a Twitter spokesperson in a statement sent to Mashable. “Accounts spreading this type of material will be removed and coupled with our proactive engagement, we continue to encourage people to report this content to us. This behavior undermines freedom of expression and the values our service is based on.”
Twitter has long-struggled with on its platform. Over the , the company has attempted to focus on the issue and improve “.” However, many critics have pointed out that regardless of what Twitter does to remove random trolls, it still provides its most problematic user, the President of the United States, with a platform.
The social media company has previously said it would remove any content or ban any user that broke its harassment policies. Yet, at the same time, Twitter gives President Trump practically due to newsworthiness of what he posts.
Twitter usually removes posts that the company determines breaks its rules. The company, however, does not institute any policies that require it to forward deleted content to law enforcement.
While Twitter’s decision to work with law enforcement in this case is a welcome move, it seems like there could be a better way to share the threatening tweets than to leave them live on the site for all to see.