The feud between President Donald Trump and Twitter heated up late Thursday night after the president commented on the ugly riots burning Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Trump, who has already announced that he’s asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to conduct an investigation into Floyd’s death, took a dim view of images showing rioters burning businesses, looting, and creating havoc.
“I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right,” he tweeted.
He followed that message with this one: “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!”
But anyone hoping to read this second tweet is greeted with a message on Twitter that hides the tweet: “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 user can then click on the “view” button to go to the tweet directly from Trump’s page. It appears comments, likes, and other typical Twitter features have been disabled on the tweet itself.
Think what you want about the content of the tweet. Think what you want about the fact that Trump feels the need to tweet everything that comes to his mind. That’s all irrelevant. What’s relevant is that Twitter has completely abandoned any pretense of being an objective avenue for people to communicate. They are taking obvious and clear sides against the president, and that’s not acceptable.
Trump, as you might have expected, was apoplectic.
“Twitter is doing nothing about all of the lies & propaganda being put out by China or the Radical Left Democrat Party. They have targeted Republicans, Conservatives & the President of the United States. Section 230 should be revoked by Congress. Until then, it will be regulated!” he tweeted Friday morning.
The president signed an executive order on Thursday, directing the Federal Communications Commission to look into whether Twitter and other social media sites should still qualify for libel and defamation protections under the law. His argument is that by tipping their hand and exerting editorial control over their sites, they have crossed the line delineating “platforms” and “publishers” and should be regulated as such.
It appears that Twitter is not backing down. They may wish they’d chosen another path.