It took 68 hours.

By Isabel Jones
Jun 03, 2020 @ 3:23 pm
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Twitter has been reluctant to issue warnings or suspend Donald Trump’s account when he clearly violates the platform’s policies.

Last week, however, Twitter finally took action and, first, fact-checked two of the President’s tweets (which led him to sign an executive order targeting social media companies, of course), and, second, placed a warning over a tweet inciting violence. Mind you, the tweet, threatening “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” is still visible, though prefaced with a message reading “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.”

Twitter has “public interest exceptions” regarding their policies. They will post a warning instead of outright removing a Tweet if it “directly contributes to understanding or discussion of a matter of public concern.” They’ve noted that they’re less likely to invoke the exception if a tweet threatens violence, though that was not the case for Trump’s aforementioned tweet.

These events inspired a Twitter user to create the handle @SuspendThePres. On May 29 the account began tweeting exactly what Trump tweets and encouraged followers to report it. About 68 hours later, the account was suspended over the same tweet that received a warning message when Trump tweeted it. @SuspendThePres was forced to delete said tweet and was suspended from tweeting, retweeting, or liking tweets for 12 hours.

Twitter isn’t the only social media coming under fire for seemingly promoting Trump’s dangerous rhetoric. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision to leave Trump’s corresponding Facebook posts on the site, writing, “I'm responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression. I know many people are upset that we've left the President's posts up, but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies.”

“Although the post had a troubling historical reference, we decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force,” he continued. “Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today's situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be. The President later posted again, saying that the original post was warning about the possibility that looting could lead to violence. We decided that this post, which explicitly discouraged violence, also does not violate our policies and is important for people to see.”

Zuckerberg’s stance was not shared by many of his employees, hundreds of whom staged a virtual walkout on Monday. Some, including two engineers, have even resigned in light of Zuckerberg’s decision.