President Donald Trump will lose more than just the Oval Office when former Vice President Joe Biden, the projected winner of the 2020 presidential election, is sworn in as president. At 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, Trump will fall into the category of "former world leader" and will lose all special protections currently afforded to him on Twitter.
Unlike other users on the social media platform, the president, as well as other world leaders, are allowed to post content that violates Twitter's rules. Rather than such tweets being removed, as they would for anyone else, they are instead flagged with a warning and its algorithmic promotion is limited. In its rules and policies guidelines, Twitter explains that it does this for elected and government officials because "it may be in the public interest to allow people to view Tweets that would otherwise be taken down."
A spokesperson for the company, however, has confirmed to multiple outlets that such special protections will be withheld from Trump when he leaves office. In a statement to Engadget, a spokesperson explained that "this [public interest] policy framework applies to current world leaders and candidates for office, and not private citizens when they no longer hold these positions."
According to journalist William LeGate, Trump will be stripped of the "public interest" safeguard on his personal account "at 12:01pm January 20th." This means that with each violation of the rules, Trump's tweets can be removed and, according to Bloomberg, he could rack up "strikes" that could potentially lead to temporary account freezes, suspensions, or even a permanent ban. The official Twitter accounts for the President of the United States, First Lady of the United States, and the White House will maintain these safeguards, as they will transition to the Biden administration upon his inauguration.
Throughout his presidency, Trump's relationship with Twitter has been contentious and has seen a number of his tweets flagged for violating the rules. Since Election Day alone, the platform has hidden more than a dozen of the president’s tweets and flagged several others, many of those tweets attempting to undermine the validity of election results by claiming that the election is fraudulent or that Democrats are trying to "steal" the presidency. Such tweets have been hidden behind a warning label reading that they "might be misleading about an election or other civic process."
Although multiple news organizations have called the election, with Biden leading in both the popular and electoral college votes, the results are still being contested by the Trump administration and the president has yet to concede. At this time, several states are still counting votes.