You might think that a US President saying that anarchists are not allowed to easily take over parts of the nation’s capital (and would be met with force if they attempt it) is hardly controversial. But it is to Twitter’s moderation team.
Twitter has censored a statement from President Trump for the third time in 25 days and in doing so continued its pattern of editorializing or obstructing messages from the President.
This time, Twitter locked down a Trump tweet that states:
“There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!”
The tweet is hidden behind a warning message and Twitter users have to select the “View” option to see the tweet.
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After Twitter users select this View option, the tweet is visible but the warning message stays above the tweet and most of the engagement metrics are locked down meaning that users can’t like, reply, or retweet it.
The only way to engage with the tweet is to retweet with comment.
Twitter claims that the tweet violated its policy against “abusive behavior,” specifically the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group.
However, Twitter’s claims have been met with heavy pushback with many of the replies arguing that the tweet is not abusive and that the President‘s statement is about enforcing the law.
Twitter previously censored a Trump tweet in late May which stated:
“….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!”
Twitter also censored the same statement when it was reposted to the official Twitter account of The White House, despite admitting in an email that the tweet didn’t break its rules.
In addition to directly censoring Trump’s statements by hiding them behind warning labels, Twitter has also editorialized two of the President’s tweet by adding a fact-check from CNN.
After facing mass pushback, Twitter claimed that it wasn’t fact-checking the President and instead “providing context.”
In total, Twitter has censored or editorialized the President’s statements five times in 28 days.
While Twitter is the most active Big Tech platform when it comes to censoring the President’s statements, other platforms have put similar rules in place that allow politicians to be censored.
For example, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently revealed that YouTube will censor politicians for “hate speech” and then allow news organizations to upload clips of the statements with their own context.
Wojcicki even said that when YouTube enforces this rule against politicians, “the actual clip coming directly from that politician would not be accessible anymore” meaning that the unfiltered message would be gone and the only source of the statement that would remain is a mainstream media clip that could be selectively edited or presented in a way that fits their preferred narrative.