In response to sections of Minneapolis being destroyed by rioters — including the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Police Precinct building, which Mayor Jacob Frey (D) ordered evacuated ahead of its razing by rioters Thursday — President Trump issued a pair of tweets early Friday denouncing the “thugs … dishonoring the memory of George Floyd,” the 46-year-old African-American man who died Monday while being forcefully detained by Minneapolis police. “[W]hen the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump warned.
Twitter promptly censored Trump’s tweet, saying it “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence.” Twitter’s action follows an escalating feud between Trump and Twitter that ratcheted up Wednesday when the platform began to fact-check Trump’s tweets — an action quickly followed by an executive order from the president targeting big tech.
Friday morning, Trump responded to Twitter’s decision to censor his condemnation of the rioters and warning of potential consequences.
“I can’t stand back [and] watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” Trump wrote in the first of the censored tweets. “A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard [and] get the job done right. 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 quickly censored the second of the pair of tweets, replacing it with the following explanation: “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.” (Below is a screenshot of the censored tweet followed by the full tweet, which embeds uncensored.)
Trump responded Friday morning by accusing Twitter of a glaring partisan double standard and vowing regulatory action.
“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!”
Trump followed up that post with a tweet quoting Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo as stating, “The President has been targeted by Twitter,” and adding: “What about all of the lies and fraudulent statements made by Adam Schiff, and so many others, on the Russian Witch Hunt Plus, Plus, Plus? What about China’s propaganda? WHO’s mistakes? No flags?”
In another tweet, Trump argued that Twitter just proved the validity of his executive order. “Regulate Twitter if they are going to start regulating free speech,” he wrote citing Judge Jeanine. “Well, as they have just proven conclusively, that’s what they are doing. Repeal Section 230!!!”
In further explanation of their decision to censor the president, Twitter Comms said in a statement: “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. 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.”
As The Daily Wire highlighted, while Twitter chose to censor the president’s tweet for allegedly “glorifying violence,” it has chosen not to censor high-profile tweets directly promoting the violent actions of the rioters.
Twitter’s move follows Trump’s executive order Thursday urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reexamine the extent to which Section 230 protects social media companies from liability, an order motivated by what Trump has repeatedly criticized as social media platforms’ bias against conservatives and Republicans.
“A small handful of powerful social media monopolies controls a vast portion of all public and private communications in the United States, and we know what they are,” Trump said during the signing of the order. “They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences. There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction, and that includes individual people controlling vast amounts of territory, and we can’t allow that to happen, especially when they go about doing what they’re doing, because they’re doing things incorrectly.”