Twitter Flags Donald Trump ‘Looting, Shooting’ Tweet As “Glorifying Violence” — Update

Donald Trump, Twitter
Donald Trump Twitter

UPDATE, 8:52 AM PT: The White House is attacking Twitter’s decision to flag one of President Donald Trump’s tweets for violating the platform’s rules rules about “glorifying violence.”

Trump’s tweet, about the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis, reference the unrest in the city, with the president saying, “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him the military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The phrase, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” was used by Miami’s police chief in 1967 when he was talking about a crackdown on “slum hoodlums.”

After Twitter slapped a label on the tweet, Trump’s original message was tweeted out on the White House’s official account. But Twitter flagged that tweet as well. That led to a barrage of criticism from the White House.

“The President did not glorify violence. He clearly condemned it.  @Jack and Twitter’s biased, bad-faith “fact-checkers” have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform,” the White House said, referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

The White House also made comparisons to messages sent out by Iran’s supreme leader, Imam Sayyid Ali Khamenei, that were not flagged.

The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, also tweeted out messages from Khamenei. Under the terms of Trump’s executive order, issued on Thursday, the FCC may ultimately be tasked with considering new regulation that could limit to scope of legal immunity that social media platforms enjoy over the way that they handle third party content posted on their site.

A spokesman for Twitter said in a statement, “The Tweets violate our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today. We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance. As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it.”

This was the first time the notice was used on one of Trump’s tweets. The platform outlined its policies for world leaders in a blog post from last year, in which it said, that “if a Tweet from a world leader does violate the Twitter Rules but there is a clear public interest value to keeping the Tweet on the service, we may place it behind a notice that provides context about the violation and allows people to click through should they wish to see the content.”

Twitter also has said that it distinguishes between the types of reference to violent acts made by world leaders. In October, the company said, “Presently, foreign policy saber-rattling on economic or military issues are generally not in violation of the Twitter Rules.”

— Ted Johnson

UPDATE AT 05.33 AM PST: Trump has responded in multiple tweets, claiming “Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party. They have targeted Republicans, Conservatives & the President of the United States. Section 230 should be revoked by Congress. Until then, it will be regulated!”

In a separate tweet he tags Fox News and Fox anchor Maria Bartiromo with the quote, “The President has been targeted by Twitter.”

The official White House Twitter account has also quoted Trump’s original flagged message, seemingly in a bid to boost its visibility.

EARLIER POST AT 02.38 AM PST: Twitter has hidden a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump because the platform says “it violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence”.

Trump tweeted early this morning that the military would “assume control” in the city of Minneapolis if recent civil disturbances continue, adding “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.

Users can still view the tweet by clicking an adjoining link but Twitter has disabled comments on the post. Trump has yet to tweet again since the message.

The city has become the centre of widespread national protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer.

Trump’s ‘looting, shooting’ reference is apparently a quote from the former Miami police chief Walter Headley, who in December 1967 promised violent reprisals to protests over stop-and-search tactics.

Twitter later added the note: “This tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the tweet to remain accessible.”

This is the latest drama between the President and the social media platform. A row erupted Wednesday when the company applied a fact-checking message to one of the President’s tweets for the first time.

He had made an accusation that California was using mail-in ballots to ensure a “rigged election” to which Twitter added a label reading: “get the facts about mail-in ballots”, which had a link to a “Twitter-curated” set of fact checks.

The President then swiftly signed an executive order seeking to curb what he called social media platforms’ “unchecked power.” The order specifically aims to ban Twitter’s protections against civil claims in cases where it acts as an “editor” rather than a publisher.

First Amendment advocates and tech industry groups quickly raised red flags over the order and doubts about its enforceability.

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