Twitter has long been President Donald Trump’s favored social media platform. He’s used it for years, starting before the 2016 election, to rally his base, to spread misinformation, and to go on cruel tirades against people he perceives to be his enemies. But this week, in multiple ways, the platform is beginning to hold the president accountable for his words. Most recently, it hid one of his tweets from early this morning behind a warning that it breaks Twitter rules for “glorifying violence.”
Following protests, riots, and looting in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd — an unarmed black man who was suffocated by a police officer with a history of violence — Trump tweeted a warning to those in the city who continued to protest Floyd’s death, and police violence and brutality.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he wrote. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”Donald J. Trump✔@realDonaldTrump
But his warning that protestors would be shot was quickly noticed by Twitter. The social media platform hid Trump’s tweet behind a warning that reads, “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.”
The tweet wasn’t removed from the platform. Readers can still click through the warning to read it — something Twitter does for tweets of politicians and public officials who violate its rules.
This is the second time this week that Twitter has taken action against Trump’s account. Earlier in the week, the platform added fact-checkers to a few of the president’s tweets, warning that his assertions that voting by mail causes widespread voter fraud was “misleading” to readers. Again, his tweet still remained readable on Twitter.
In response, Trump issued an executive order targeting social media sites — and singling out Twitter specifically. In his order, he called social media “one of the greatest dangers” to free speech “in American history.” That’s a pretty shocking change of opinion from a president who is absolutely known for his prolific use of Twitter. Regardless, legal experts say it’s likely up to Congress — not a presidential order — to change laws that relate to social media platforms’ liability for what their user’s post, which is what Trump attempted to target with his order.