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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY

Twitter slaps warning on Trump’s tweet on ‘shooting’ looters

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY

Twitter Inc. put up a rule-violation notice on one of US President Donald Trump’s most recent posts that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Twitter’s screenshot Photographer: Twitter/Bloomberg

Saying that the president’s comments about protests in Minneapolis were against its rules, the social media company has obscured the offending message on Trump’s profile with the following warning: “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.”

….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!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020

As protests in Minneapolis over the death of a handcuffed African American man turned increasingly violent, the president used Twitter to assail Minneapolis’s mayor, Jacob Frey, as weak and said he had told Minnesota Governor Tim Walz that “the military is with him all the way.”

“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts,” Twitter said in a statement on its @TwitterComms account. It said the company had kept Trump’s tweet live “because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”

The official White House Twitter account later retweeted Trump’s tweet about looting and shooting. The post doesn’t contain any rule violation warning from Twitter.

A man approaches a police line after a night of protests and violence on May 29, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Trump replied Friday morning, calling on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to revoke Twitter’s liability shield under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Under current law, companies like Twitter and Facebook Inc. are protected for users’ posts. On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that seeks to limit liability protections for social-media companies.

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. Section 230 should be revoked by Congress. Until then, it will be regulated!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020

The warning escalates a confrontation with Trump that began when Twitter put a fact-check notice on one of the President’s tweets for the first time on Wednesday. The short messaging service, after years of criticism that it let Trump use its site to spread misinformation, added a note to his tweets on mail-in voting with links reading “get the facts.”

On Thursday, Trump told reporters that his executive order “calls for new regulations under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield.”

The president’s tweets about the ongoing situation in Minneapolis incited a strong response from other Twitter users, but those replies have since been hidden or removed by the company. The options to reply and like the tweet have also been disabled, while the retweet and quote-tweet functions have been left active.

It is not the first time Twitter has issued a warning against a politician’s tweet. In April, a message from Brazilian lawmaker Osmar Terra was flagged after he said quarantine measures risked increasing the spread of COVID-19. He included a chart to support his argument.

As was the case with Trump’s tweet, Terra’s message remained accessible because it was in “the public interest,” but its content was hidden from view by default.