• On Friday, Twitter censored one of President Donald Trump’s tweets for violating their rules on glorifying violence
  • In the censored tweet, Trump threatened to send the military to handle “THUGS” looting in Minneapolis
  • On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at lifting legal immunity protections for social media companies
  • Trump’s executive order came two days after Twitter fact-checked two of his tweets claiming mail-in ballots created voter fraud without any supporting evidence

Early Friday morning, President Donald Trump was censored on Twitter for violating the social media platform’s “Rules about glorifying violence.” In two tweets related to the Minneapolis riots, Trump threatened to have the military shoot “THUGS” who were looting. Now that Twitter has censored Trump, it should be interesting to see how this feud plays out.

On Thursday night Trump tweeted a two-part tweet condemning the three days of rioting happening in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd. The first tweet read, “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…..”

The first part of Trump’s tweet was not an issue and remains untouched. The second part now has a cover that reads, “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 Censors Trump

If you click on view, you can still read the second part of the tweet. “…..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!” the tweet reads.

Twitter censoring Trump is the latest in a battle between the President of the United States and the social media giant. On Thursday Trump signed an executive order in an attempt to limit the legal protections used by social media companies. Two days prior, Twitter fact-checked two of Trump’s tweets claiming mail-in ballots allowed voter fraud without any supporting evidence. Trump has lashed out at Twitter by claiming their fact-checking is censorship.

“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American history, frankly,” Trump said on Thursday. “A small handful of powerful social media monopolies control the vast portion of all private and public communications in the United States.” Trump echoed a valid concern that these tech companies have “unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter,” a massive amount of human interaction.

Twitter claimed in a statement that Trump’s “politicized approach to a landmark law” would destroy immunity laws could “threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.” On Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote in a tweet, “This does not make us an “arbiter of truth.” Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”

Trump’s executive order is taking aim at a law passed by Congress in 1996, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law is designed to protect Internet companies from being sued over content that appears on social media platforms from their users and allows content moderation. Until 2018, the law had even been used to protect websites where users advertised children who were forced into sex trafficking. Congress amended Section 230 in 2018 and began holding social media companies accountable for advertising prostitution or victims of sex trafficking.

Legal experts have already dismissed Trump’s executive order and chalked it up to the likes of “political theater.” Kate Klonick, a professor at St. John’s University School of Law in New York, told NPR, “It’s not the role of the president to interpret federal law.” The order directs the Federal Communications Commission to begin a rule-making process that clarifies when social media companies are protected by Section 230.

If Trump had it his way Section 230 would open up social media companies and sites like Wikipedia to an endless barrage of lawsuits. The companies would most likely not be able to survive the huge cost of legal defense against lawsuits over what their users were posting. If these companies were open to lawsuits over what their users said, chances are they would be forced to crack down on their community standards to basically silence anything that may be considered controversial by any of their users. In other words, if you think Facebook and Twitter community standards are bad now just wait until they are legally liable for anything every single one of their users says.

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