Twitter removes Trump campaign tribute to George Floyd claiming copyright complaint
Twitter on Thursday removed a video tribute to George Floyd posted by President Trump’s reelection campaign, claiming it had run afoul of the website’s policy on copyrighted material.
The Team Trump account tweeted out a nearly four-minute long video that is narrated by a speech the president gave a few days after Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody.
In the video, the president can be heard lamenting the “grave tragedy” of Floyd’s death over images of Floyd and peaceful protesters mourning his death.
Later in the video, the president warns about “violence and anarchy” from “radical left-wing groups” over images of riots and looting. He also describes the vast majority of law enforcement officials as “devoted public servants” as the video shows images of police officers hugging civilians and people cleaning up graffiti and garbage in the streets.
The Team Trump video was retweeted by Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., before it was removed with a message that said: “This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner.”
This X 1000!!! https://t.co/aEiH5ZEIUx
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) June 4, 2020
The Trump campaign says it reached out to Twitter to ask who had complained about the video and how it had run afoul of the website’s copyright policy.
“This incident is yet another reminder that Twitter is making up the rules as they go along,” said Andrew Clark, a spokesman for the Trump campaign. “From the dubious removal of the hilarious Nickelback video to capricious fact checks and manipulated media labels to questionable claims of copyright, Twitter has repeatedly failed to explain why their rules seem to only apply to the Trump campaign but not to others. Censoring out the president’s important message of unity around the George Floyd protests is an unfortunate escalation of this double standard.”
A Twitter spokesperson told The Hill they received a complaint from a copyright owner of at least one of the images in the video, although it’s unclear which one. Harvard University’s Lumen Database, a third-party research group Twitter uses to study cease and desist letters, reviewed the complaint and found it to be valid under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The DMCA is one of the few sections of the law that social media platforms can be held liable for if they do not remove infringing content. The U.S. Copyright Office has said in a report that it recommends a policy for social media platforms that “provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.”
Twitter’s latest move to sanction the Trump campaign’s content comes amid heightened tensions between the social media giant and the president.
Last week, Twitter appended a fact-check to one of the president’s claims about mail voting fraud.
The president responded with an executive order directing the federal government to consider stripping some of the legal protections afforded to social media platforms.
Republicans are concerned by what they view as liberal bias in Silicon Valley and an effort by the tech giants to tilt the playing field toward Democrats in an election year.
The Trump campaign has complained about what it describes as Twitter’s arbitrary standards and liberal fact-checkers that they say are being used to challenge normal-course political statements.
Democrats are on heightened alert over the spread of misinformation after the intelligence community determined that Russian agents used Twitter and Facebook to spread propaganda aimed at influencing the outcome of the 2016 election in favor of Trump.
Democrats are demanding that social media giants crack down on false or misleading political speech.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said his website will not get into the business of fact-checking or removing most political content, infuriating Democrats.
Twitter has been more aggressive in fact-checking and removing content that it deems to be misleading or manipulated.