Twitter hid a tweet from President Trump early Friday that the social media site said broke its rules on “glorifying violence,” then concealed the same tweet again when it was later reposted from the official White House account.
The tweets in question directly threatened demonstrators after a chaotic third day of protests against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Demonstrators are demanding action over the death of the 46-year-old unarmed black man after shocking video footage showed a white police officer kneeling on his neck.
Late Thursday, they took over the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct and set the building ablaze.
Shortly after midnight, the president threatened to “start shooting” in an incendiary string of tweets. Trump wrote: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. 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!”
The ‘shooting’ reference echoed an infamous quote by an aggressive Miami police chief in 1967 who declared war on criminals sowing unrest in black neighborhoods in Miami.
Now, instead of showing that tweet, the site displays a disclaimer that users have to click through to be able to see what the president wrote. It states: “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.”
Predictably, when Trump woke up on Friday morning to find his tweet has been hidden overnight, he and his allies went ballistic. The text of the concealed tweet was posted by the official White House account early Friday, which was then slapped with the same warning.
After the White House tweet was hidden, the official account responded: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it will allow terrorists, dictators, and foreign propagandists to abuse its platform.” The tweet included a screenshot from the feed of Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, calling for a violent jihad in Palestine.
It’s the first time one of the president’s tweets has been concealed by Twitter, and comes after a week in which Trump has waged war on the site. The president raged earlier this week when Twitter added a fact-check to one of his tweets, casting doubt on his inaccurate assertion that mail ballots would lead to widespread voting fraud.
Then, on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at removing some legal protections given to social media platforms. It urged federal regulators to crack down on companies like Twitter and to consider removing legal protections that exempt them from liability for what gets posted on their platforms.
Reacting to the decision to hide his tweet, Trump frothed on Friday morning: “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.”
He then claimed later on Friday that he actually tweeted out of concern that looting could lead to further violence, which could harm protesters.
“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night - or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot. I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means,” he tweeted. “It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement.”
Brendan Carr, commissioner of supposedly independent government agency the Federal Communications Commission, wrote: “Twitter has abandoned any attempt at a good faith application of its rules. No one should take comfort in that. Here it is punishing speakers based on whether it approves or disapproves of their politics.”
White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino added: “Twitter is targeting the President of the United States 24/7, while turning their heads to protest organizers who are planning, plotting, and communicating their next moves daily on this very platform. Twitter is full of shit—more and more people are beginning to get it.”