Liberal legal scholar rips Twitter for censoring Trump, says 'free speech' ultimate 'loser'


Constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley warned that Twitter's decision to level fact checks or altogether hide President Trump's tweets threatened the concept of free expression in America.

"Twitter is now making the case for government action to monitor and control social media," Turley wrote in a blog post published Friday. "The loser will ultimately be free speech."

Overnight Thursday, Trump reacted to reports of massive looting and rioting in Minneapolis by calling the perpetrators "thugs" and threatened to deploy the U.S. military to the region to gain control of the situation.

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts," Trump said in a now-hidden tweet.

Twitter deemed Trump's tweet to be "glorifying violence" and hid it from public view. The company's decision comes just days after a similar move in which the platform added a fact check to a pair of Trump tweets about mail-in voting.

The Twitter fact check linked to a litany of media reports debunking Trump's assertion that voter fraud is widespread in America and mail-in voting all but assures increased fraud will occur.

"I am still leery of the government intervening on social media," Turley wrote. "Free speech has few advocates in this fight. It is primary a struggle between Twitter, Trump, and the Democrats over who controls such speech."

The White House tweeted the same statement Trump made in the tweet Twitter labeled as "glorifying" violence, a post that was also hidden.

On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order giving the federal government the power to regulate social media companies heavily and increase transparency regarding how they decide to enforce the rules of their platforms.

Turley said he did not agree with the content of Trump's tweets about the Minneapolis protesters but that they should not be censored.

"Twitter had the chance to admit error and return to neutrality in the interest of free speech. It is clearly more concerned with expressing its views than preserving its forum," he said. "Frankly, I would not care about such self-inflicted wounds except that free speech will likely suffer the collateral damage from Twitter’s glorifying speech controls."

The rioting in Minneapolis and other major cities across the country comes amid protests from demonstrators upset with the death of George Floyd, 46, an unarmed black man, while in police custody earlier this week.

"I can't breathe," Floyd told the officer, who, along with three other colleagues, has been fired. No arrests in Floyd's case have been made as of Friday morning, and more demonstrations are expected through the weekend.