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Twitter limited the reach of a second tweet from President Donald Trump this morning, as the White House and its allies sought to escalate their feud with the social media company.
On Friday, Trump called people protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota “thugs.” The president continued, “Any difficulty and we will assume control, but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Shortly after the message was posted, Twitter determined that it violated rules involving the glorification of violence and placed a notice on the tweet. In doing so, the tweet is hidden from Trump’s timeline but is accessible once a user clicks a “view” button. Likes, retweets, and replies are all disabled from the tweet in an effort to limit its reach.
The tweet Twitter labeled was the second in a thread of posts from the president targeting the protests in Minnesota. Several hours after the tweets were posted, the White House’s own Twitter account quote-tweeted the first in Trump’s thread and reposted the same message that the platform originally flagged on the president’s account. The White House’s quote-tweet was labeled for the same rule violation.
A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge:
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 is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited.
That same message that violated Twitter’s rules was cross-posted to Facebook on Friday. As of publication, Facebook hasn’t taken any action against the post. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Verge.
Dan Scavino Jr., White House deputy chief of staff and for communications and social media, reacted to Twitter’s decision to restrict Trump’s Friday tweet saying, “Twitter is full of shit – more and more people are beginning to get it.”
Brendan Carr, Republican Commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission, wrote in a tweet, “Twitter has abandoned any attempt at a good faith application of its rules. No one should take comfort in that.”
Twitter’s move to restrict Trump’s tweet about the Minnesota protests follows a week of conflict between the president and the platform. Earlier this week, Twitter fact-checked a tweet from the president for the first time for making false statements about mail-in voting. The following day, Trump lashed out, calling for the federal government to “strongly regulate, or close [platforms] down” before they “silence conservative voices.”
Over the last year, Trump and congressional Republicans have been obsessively concerned with the idea that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter could actively moderate against conservative speech online. Legislation aimed at amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has been proposed, but it ultimately failed to pick up steam until this week. On Thursday, the president signed an executive order aimed at regulating social media companies and changing the government’s interpretation of Section 230, but it’s likely to face significant legal challenges.