Twitter took its latest action on content from President Trump Tuesday, again hiding a threat of state violence behind a warning label and appending it with a notice.
Trump’s latest offending tweet declared “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 follows a clash between protesters and law enforcement Monday night in Lafayette Square near the White House.
Twitter says the tweet violated its rules prohibiting threats of harm against groups of people, a form of “abusive behavior” on the social network. The company said that it will allow the tweet to remain up, though has restricted the ability of users to interact with it, including likes, replies and retweets without comment.
On Monday, Twitter declined to act on a different tweet from the president that made false claims about mail-in voting and the “RIGGED 2020 ELECTION.” That tweet was not specific enough to cross the line for breaking platform rules around election integrity—a policy we’ll certainly be hearing more about.
In recent weeks, the president has frequently derided the city of Seattle for allowing protesters to create a police-free area, returning to the topic to stoke fear and anger within his political base. After police abandoned a station in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Seattle demonstrators moved into the area declaring it an “autonomous zone.” The autonomous zone—and the president’s latest threat—grew out of national civil rights protests against police brutality and racist violence after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd late last month.
Today’s tweet is the latest in what may become many examples of Twitter enforcing its platform rules against the president. In the past, the company rarely acted to enforce its policies on tweets from high profile U.S. politicians, Trump included.
Over the last month, Twitter shifted to a much more active approach to its moderation responsibilities for political figures. In late May, Twitter ignited a political firestorm when it flagged two of the president’s tweets making false claims about vote-by-mail systems in California, leading to a retaliatory executive order from Trump days later. In the early days of the George Floyd protests, the company hid another tweet from the president that threatened lethal violence against protesters.