Twitter Puts Restriction On New Trump Tweet For “Glorifying Violence”
The Verge reports that Twitter has applied restrictions along with a public interest notice to a Tweet from President Donald J. Trump. The notice states that the Tweet violates Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.
Trump’s Tweet reads as follows:
....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!
- In a Tweet that also links to the glorification of violence policy, Twitter states, “This Tweet violates 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.”
- The Verge explains, “Trump is intentionally or inadvertently quoting former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley,” who in 1967 said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” during an announcement of a “get tough” policing strategy for black neighborhoods.
- Headley expressed a commitment to use shotguns, dogs, and aggressive “stop and frisk” tactics. The New York Times at the time reported that he told reporters, “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”
- Trump’s Tweet and the notice were both posted on May 29. The day before, Trump signed an executive order intended to reduce legal protections given to social media websites such as Twitter under Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act.
- Trump issued this order after a previous Tweet of his was flagged as misleading in violation of Twitter’s civic integrity policy against “content that may suppress participation” in “in elections or other civic processes.”
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), one of the co-authors of Section 230, criticized Trump’s actions against the law in a statement. He called Trump’s executive order “plainly illegal” and said,
As the co-author of Section 230, let me make this clear – there is nothing in the law about political neutrality. It does not say companies like Twitter are forced to carry misinformation about voting, especially from the president. Efforts to erode Section 230 will only make online content more likely to be false and dangerous.
Protecting expression that resists the tyranny of those in power is the very foundation of the First Amendment. Section 230 does not prevent Internet companies from moderating offensive or false content. And it does not change the First Amendment of the Constitution.
In a follow-up pertaining to Trump’s May 29 Tweet, Twitter said,
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.