Twitter has flagged and hidden a tweet from the official White House account for “glorifying violence.” The tweet in question was first posted on Twitter by President Donald Trump but was also flagged by the social media site. It appears the White House attempted to get around the site’s policies to spread Trump’s message, in which he appeared to threaten to send in the National Guard and shoot protestors.
“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!”
The White House account quote-tweeted a message from Trump that Twitter had deemed acceptable in which the president said he couldn’t sit back and watch rioting occur in Minneapolis, adding on top the exact wording from Trump’s flagged tweet. The account apparently assumed the social media site wouldn’t take the same action twice, but Twitter did flag the White House’s post as well.
The White House twitter is broadcasting threats against American citizens. It's now nothing but RT's of Trump's personal feed. This is an official government outlet. I'm a former military spokesman and I've never seen anything half as outrageous from a government agency. pic.twitter.com/Mr3Gynfrix
— Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) May 29, 2020
MSNBC‘s Joy Reid was among those who pointed out that the language in the flagged posts has a historical context. Reid tweeted that the quote, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” was most famously said by Miami police chief Walter Headley. Headley, according to Reid was considered the “Bull Connor” of Florida in the 1960s.
Headley reportedly put down several civil rights protests by ordering his officers to use violence. There is also some similarities to other language Trump used in describing the protests. Reid showed press clippings quoting Headley calling protesters “young hoodlums,” while Trump called those in the streets of Minneapolis “young thugs.”
Twitter’s actions against first Trump and then the White House come just one day after the president issued an executive order aimed at social media sites. That executive order purported to weaken the sites that the administration felt were “silencing conservative voices.”
While some legal analysts believe the order can’t withstand judicial oversight, others were still worried about the implications and timing of the order. Trump issued it one day after Twitter used another type of flag on two of his tweets that claimed mail-in voting would lead to widespread fraud. Twitter amended the posts with a fact-check link to information about absentee ballots and mail-in voting.
In addition to issuing the executive order, Trump claimed during a press conference on Thursday that he wanted to delete his entire Twitter account. When asked why he didn’t, he cited “fake news” as the reason he remained on the social media platform.