Twitter hid a tweet by U.S. President Donald Trump behind a warning for the first time on Friday, accusing him of breaking its rules by “glorifying violence”.
Trump, a prolific Twitter user, has been at war with the company since earlier this week, when it for the first time applied fact checks to two of his tweets. Those were about mail-in ballots.
Twitter’s decision to step in escalates a conflict between Trump and tech companies. It came hours after Trump signed an executive order threatening Silicon Valley social media firms with new free speech regulations, amid a fight with Twitter after the company added a fact-checking tag to his tweets this week about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting.
Trump’s tweet labeled by Twitter read: “…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 did not remove the tweet, saying it had determined it might be in the public interest to have it remain accessible. It does that only for tweets by elected and government officials. But the tweet was hidden so that a user looking at Trump’s timeline would have to click on the warning to see the original tweet.
The official White House Twitter account also later sent out the same message. Twitter declined to comment on whether it would be taking the same action on the new tweet.
This Thursday, Trump targeted Twitter and other social media companies by signing an executive order challenging the laws that generally protect them from liability for material users post on their platforms.
Trump, responded by accusing the company of targeting him, Republicans and other conservatives for censorship. He also threatened to impose new regulation on internet companies and called on Congress to revoke a law, known as Section 230, that protects online platforms from lawsuits over content.
Trump’s message can now be seen only after clicking on a notice which says: “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.”
The president and fellow conservatives have claimed for years that Silicon Valley tech companies are biased against them. But there is no evidence for this, and while the executives and many employees of Twitter, Facebook and Google may lean liberal, the companies have stressed they have no business interest in favouring one political party over the other.