White House, Trump accounts both get Twitter rulebreaker warning
Twitter waited almost four years into the term to act, and Trump's not happy.by Kate Cox
Twitter is once again facing the ire of its most famous user, President Donald Trump, after putting a warning label on one of Trump's tweets signaling that it breaks the service rules against glorifying violence.
Speaking about the unrest in Minneapolis, Trump tweeted, "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!"
Twitter does not generally delete Tweets posted by newsworthy figures. Instead, it puts a warning on the message indicating that it violates site rules but remains live due to potential public interest. Twitter's communication's team posted a notice that it was placing the public interest exemption label on Trump's tweet, explaining that, "based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today, the message fell afoul of the site's explicit policy prohibiting the glorification of violence.
The last line of the tweet—"When the looting starts, the shooting starts"—is attributed to Miami Mayor Walter Headley, who said it in 1967 at a press conference addressing racial tension and protests in Miami at the height of the US civil rights movement.
This is the second time this week Twitter has acted to signal a presidential tweet might be dangerous or against the company's rules. The first time, on Tuesday, it placed a fact-checking message on a Trump tweet falsely claiming that vote-by-mail policies—poised to expand in the wake of the novel coronavirus—would necessarily lead to a "rigged election."
The president handled Twitter's warning today with the exact amount of aplomb and grace you would by now expect, first live-tweeting along with a Fox News segment discussing the label before ending the morning's thread by shouting, "CHINA!" apropos of nothing.
(For what it's worth, Twitter has, in fact, also begun putting fact-check labels on tweets from Chinese officials that contain false information. Two messages posted by a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry that alleged the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 originated in the US, rather than Wuhan, were marked as containing false information.)
So the official White House Twitter account picked up Trump's ball and ran with it, reposting the exact same content from the president's tweet. After an hour, Twitter put this message, too, behind a warning that it violates site rules.
The administration is already trying to throw anything it can think of at Twitter to punish it for, to put it bluntly, annoying the president. Yesterday, Trump, joined by Attorney General Bill Barr, signed a mostly toothless executive order ordering federal and state officials to up their regulation of the way social media content platforms behave. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this morning called for a criminal investigation of Twitter, alleging the site violates US sanctions against Iran by allowing two Iranian officials to have accounts on the service.