Donald Trump
President-elect Donald Trump's targeting of a union worker on Twitter may be in violation of Twitter's anti-harassment rules Steve Pope/Getty Images

Donald Trump recently took to Twitter to slam Chuck Jones, a union worker who accused the president-elect of lying about the recent Carrier deal and exaggerating the number of jobs that would be saved at a factory in Indiana. Trump's public criticism of the United Steelworkers Local 1999 president triggered a deluge of abusive calls and threats just half an hour after the tweets were posted, the Washington Post reports.

"Chuck Jones, who is president of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country," Trump wrote. "If United Steelworkers 1999 was any good, they would have kept those jobs in Indiana. Spend more time working - less time talking. Reduce dues."

"What kind of car do you drive," one caller reportedly said. "We're coming for you," said another.

Although Trump has used his Twitter account to criticise opponents in often controversial tweets in the past, his recent hostile tweets targeting a citizen could be found to be in violation of Twitter's anti-harassment rules.

According to Twitter's support page, users' "may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others". Accounts found violating these rules may be temporarily locked or permanently suspended.

However, the social media network does note that it will consider various factors when deciding whether to lock or ban the account including whether the purpose of the account is to send abusive messages to others, the reported abusive behaviour "is one-sided or includes threats" or if the account is "inciting others to harass another account".

Last month, the New York Times reported that Trump's campaign staffers took control of his Twitter account in an attempt to take away "a previously unfiltered channel for his aggressions" just days before Election Day. Shortly after his historic election win over Hillary Clinton on 8 November, Trump promised to be "very restrained" in his social media use as president.

However, Trump's Twitter account has continued to garner attention for its controversial tweets.

Twitter recently said it would not rule out banning Trump if he violates its rules.

"The Twitter rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating these policies," a spokesperson told Slate.

In response to an enquiry from Motherboard whether Twitter would ban Trump's account if he continues to target individuals, a company spokesperson said: "The Twitter rules apply to all accounts."

People have also called on Twitter to ban Trump from the platform. An online petition urges the platform to suspend his account arguing that he "crossed a line by attacking people on Twitter based on race, religion, gender and more".

"By locking or suspending Donald Trump's account, Twitter can send a powerful message that hate is not accepted or condoned on their platform," the petition reads. At the time of publication, the petition has garnered over 48,000 signatures and counting.

In recent months, Twitter has drawn sharp criticism and complaints from users arguing that the company needs to do more to combat harassment and abusive behaviour on its platform whilst still upholding freedom of speech.

In November, the company announced plans to upgrade some of its features to tackle online harassment and cyberbullying. Shortly after, the company suspended several high-profile Twitter accounts associated with the alt-right movement, including Richard Spencer, president and director of the white-nationalist National Policy Institute.

In July, Twitter permanently banned Milo Yiannopoulos, the infamous troll and conservative tech editor of right-wing American news site Breitbart News, accusing him of inciting his followers to target Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones with hateful racial and sexist vitriol.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently said his feelings on Trump's Twitter are "complicated".