Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Twitter has restricted a tweet from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) for violating its policies against glorifying violence, following a similar action taken against President Donald Trump last week.
In a tweet published Monday, Gaetz wrote, “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” The post was retweeted over 12,000 times before Twitter took action against it. Hours after it was posted, Twitter determined that it violated its policies against glorifying violence. In doing so, the tweet is hidden from Gaetz’s profile and users must click a “view” button before seeing. Likes, retweets, and replies are all disabled from the tweet in an effort to limit its reach.
Other lawmakers, like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) called for Twitter to take down the tweet. “Take the Gaetz tweet down right now @twitter. RIGHT NOW. The survivors of mass shootings are lighting up my phone. They are scared to death this will inspire someone to start shooting into a crowd tonight. They are right,” he said. Gaetz responded to a tweet calling him out “for inciting violence,” by writing in a follow-up tweet, “You know what incites violence? Weakness.”
Over the last week, demonstrators have gathered in cities across the country to protest police brutality after the death of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of a former Minnesota police officer. Politicians like Gaetz and Trump quickly narrowed their focus onto instances of violence and looting, blaming left-leaning protestors and “Antifa” for riots.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted that the US will designate Antifa a terrorist organization. Under current law, the federal government has no legal authority to label a wholly domestic group in the same way it designates foreign terrorist organizations. Antifa, short for anti-fascist, isn’t an organized group — Antifa is often used as an adjective for activists who oppose fascism.
Twitter’s action against Gaetz’s tweet follows its decision to restrict and fact-check tweets from the president last week. On Tuesday, Twitter fact-check two tweets from Trump making false statements about mail-in voting and voter fraud. It was the first time the platform took action against the president’s post. On Friday, Twitter restricted a tweet from Trump for violating its policies against glorifying violence.
In Friday’s tweet, Trump called people protesting the death of George Floyd in Minnesota “thugs.” He continued, “Any difficulty and we will assume control, but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Shortly after the message was posted, Twitter determined the tweet violated its rules and placed a notice on the tweet. By doing so, the tweet was hidden from Trump’s timeline, and likes, retweets, and replies were disabled to limit its reach. Facebook declined to take similar action against the same messages posted by Trump’s account on its social network, leading to widespread frustration internally and Facebook employees’ first-ever organized walk out on Monday to protest CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision.