Twitter is referring to the fact that Trump’s “looting” comment is a quote from former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, in charge during the Miami’s 1967 race riots and known for his “stop and frisk” tactics. During the riots, he used the same phrase: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” He’s also known for saying: “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality. They haven’t seen anything yet.”
As Chris Geidner from the Justice Collaborative noted, Trump’s tweet also appears to be inaccurate. The Minnesota National Guard tweeted that it had already “activated more than 500 soldiers to St. Paul, Minneapolis and surrounding communities… to protect life, preserve property and the right to peacefully demonstrate.”
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.
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) May 29, 2020
It’s the second time in days that Twitter has taken action on a Trump tweet, as the social media network added a fact check to another one just a few days ago. As a result of that action, Trump signed an executive order yesterday trying to limit legal protections for social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. However, critics have said that the order was ill-advised and probably not legally enforceable.
Last year, Twitter said that it would label but not delete tweets from political leaders, as it was in the “public interest” to leave them up. The company also said that it would downrank such tweets so that they wouldn’t surface easily during searches.
Where Twitter has taken action with recent Trump tweets, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said it’s wrong for companies to become the “arbiter of truth.” As it stands, Trump’s “looting” message is also up on his Facebook account with no label or warning. Trump has long maintained that social media networks have a bias against him and conservative views, so Twitter’s latest action will no doubt greatly escalate tensions between them.
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