The White House taunted Twitter on Friday by reposting Donald Trump’s tweet calling for the outright extrajudicial slaughter of Americans protesting police brutality in Minneapolis, which the social media site on Friday hid behind a label for “glorifying violence.” Twitter has now responded by doing exactly the same thing to the White House account.
In the early hours of Friday morning, Trump tweeted that he “can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis,” adding that “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…..”. Trump added in a subsequent tweet that he wouldn’t tolerate “THUGS,” that Minnesota Governor Tim Walz had been informed “the Military is with him all the way,” and that “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”
In other words, a fairly straightforward call — verging on an order — for elements of the U.S. military (presumably the National Guard) to enter Minneapolis and open fire, which if acted on would constitute an atrocity. Twitter recently broke with its years-long habit of making continual excuses as to why it had not taken action on Trump’s obviously terms of service-breaking tweets, slapping a fact check module on one where the president baselessly asserted Democrats were plotting to steal the 2020 elections via mail-in voter fraud. On Friday, it hid Trump’s original tweet with the message:
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. Learn more
This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today. https://t.co/sl4wupRfNH
— Twitter Comms (@TwitterComms) May 29, 2020
Trump’s goons at the White House have sought to portray Twitter’s reaction — and not, say, the president lifting a call to violence from a Miami police chief that terrorised black communities and sparked riots in the 1960s — as a line crossed. Later Friday morning, the official White House account openly goaded Twitter by reposting Trump’s tweet.
The provocation was pretty obvious, beyond making it clear that the White House just made Trump’s call to violence its official policy. With Twitter already having dared to check Trump’s supposedly “personal” account, the administration was challenging it to hide a tweet by the official account of the executive branch of the federal government. (It’s debatable at this point whether there is a distinction, legally or otherwise.)
Expect the president’s disgusting rhetoric — and his feud with Twitter — to keep escalating in the coming hours, days, and weeks as he paints himself as the real victim here.
Gizmodo has reached out to Twitter for comment, and we’ll update if we hear back.