The last few days have seen an escalation in the war between President Donald Trump and social media companies – in particular, his most frequented platform, Twitter.
On Friday, for the first time, Twitter added a warning label to one of President Trump’s tweets for glorifying violence.
The tweet was in reference to the unrest in Minneapolis which broke out after a viral video showed a police officer with a knee on an unarmed African American man. Forty-six-year old George Floyd later died in hospital.
In a thread, Trump condemned the protests, referred to protestors as thugs, and threatened to bring in the National Guard. But it was the second part of the tweet that caught the attention of Twitter, “If the looting starts, the shooting starts,” it read, referencing a quote from Miami Police Chief who said the same thing in the late 1960s in the context of aggressive policing in Black neighbourhoods.
Despite the warning, the tweet can still be viewed. While the move is significant, it bears repeating that any other account would have been suspended and the tweet deleted.
“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 inaccessible,” read the warning label.
This comes only days after Twitter added a fact-checking link to Trump’s tweet on postal voting which the President condemned for election interference.
President Donald Trump has decided to hit back against the social media giant, alongside other platforms like Facebook, with an executive order.
The order is aimed at adjusting the legal protections given to social media platforms, which Trump believes are given “unchecked power”.
Under a 1996 law, website operators are devoid of responsibility for content posted by its users and are protected from lawsuits if they block violent content. However, the new executive order believes that this should no longer apply if websites edit posts by including a warning label. Despite Trump’s apparent outrage, it can be a long time before the executive order comes into fruition.
Social media platforms have spoken out against the executive order.
Twitter’s policy account tweeted: “This EO is a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law. #Section230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression, and it’s underpinned by democratic values. Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.”
While Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg appeared on a Fox News interview saying that his platform has “a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this.”
“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said.