Twitter flagged a Thursday-night tweet from President Trump about the Minnesota riots, saying his use of the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” violated its policy against “glorifying violence.”
The president warned that he would not let “those THUGS” continue rioting in Minneapolis. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he stated.
A police precinct was abandoned and lit ablaze late Thursday night, the third straight day of protesting following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on Monday. Trump’s “looting” comment was an apparent reference to a quote made by a Miami police chief in the late 1960s following city riots.
Twitter did not remove the tweet, saying “it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” but did limit engagements by disabling “likes” and retweets that did not include any additional commentary.
“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,” the platform explained.
Trump responded to the notice by saying that Twitter has “targeted Republicans, Conservatives & the President of the United States.” He also said his administration would regulate Section 230, which protects social-media companies from liability in case of a post by a third party containing false or misleading information. Trump signed an executive order aimed at “Preventing Online Censorship” on Thursday, arguing that the “scope” of Section 230 “should be clarified.”
Following Twitter’s action, the second it has taken against Trump this week, the official White House account quoted Trump’s flagged comments in an apparent attempt to circumvent the ruling.
“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!” https://t.co/GDwAydcAOw
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 29, 2020