JEDDAH | SAUDI ARABIA – Twitter hid a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump behind a warning for the first time on Friday, accusing him of breaking its rules by ‘glorifying violence’ in a message that said looters at protests in Minneapolis would be shot.
Twitter’s decision to step in escalates a feud between Trump and tech companies. It came hours after Trump signed an executive order threatening Silicon Valley social media firms with new free speech regulations, amid a fight Twitter after the company added a fact-cheching tag to his tweet this week about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail – in voting.
It also comes at a time of racially-charged civil unrest in cities across the United States over the death of George Floyd, a black mean seen on video gasping for breath while a white police officer knelt on his neck.
Trump’s tweet labeled by Twitter read: ‘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 difficult and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!’.
Twitter also hid a later tweet from the official White House Twitter account that repeated the message.
Trump, who has more than 80 million followers on Twitter, responded by accusing the company of targeting him and other conservatives for censorship. He threatened new regulation on internet companies and called on Congress to revoke a law, known as Section 230, that protects online platforms from lawsuits over content.
Trump’s message can now be seen only after clicking on a notice which says: ‘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’.
A Twitter spokeswoman said CEO Jack Dorsey had been informed of the decision to hide Trump’s tweet before the label was applied. The decision was based on a policy introduced in June, 2019, which the company said it applied to a Brazilian cabinet member’s tweet in April.
Trump issued his tweet amid days of unrest in Minneapolis, which was engulfed in a third night of arson, looting and vandalism as protesters vented their rage over Floyd’s death.
Four police officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired and the FBI is investigating. Trump has condemned the kicking and promised justice.