Twitter flags Trump tweet on protesters for including ‘threat of harm’

Twitter on Tuesday added an advisory to one of President Trump’s tweets that threatened protesters seeking to establish an “autonomous zone” in Washington, D.C., saying it violated the platform’s rules against abusive behavior.

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about abusive behavior. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” reads the advisory added to Trump’s tweet.

The president had tweeted Tuesday morning that any attempt to establish an “autonomous zone” in the nation’s capital “will be met with serious force.” Twitter added a notice roughly six hours later stating the tweet violated its policies.

“We’ve placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our policy against abusive behavior, specifically, the presence of a threat of harm against an identifiable group,” the platform said.

“Per our policies, this Tweet will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation,” Twitter added.

Users can no longer like or reply to Trump’s tweet, but they can retweet it with comment, according to the platform.

Trump’s threat against protesters came after tense demonstrations Monday night when protesters attempted to topple a statue of former President Jackson in Lafayette Square across the street from the White House. At one point, protesters spray-painted the letters “BHAZ” near the White House, an acronym for “Black House Autonomous Zone.”

“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!” Trump tweeted.

Authorities had cleared the protesters from the area near the White House as of Tuesday afternoon.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany asserted that Twitter’s action was silencing Trump’s push for “law and order” across the country.

“Twitter labeled it ‘abusive behavior’ for the President of the United States to say that he will enforce the law,” she tweeted. “Twitter says it is ‘abusive’ to prevent rioters from forcibly seizing territory to set up a lawless zone in our capital.”

Tuesday’s action is the latest instance of Twitter adding warning labels to the president’s tweets as the platform takes a more aggressive approach. 

In late May, Twitter placed warnings on two of the president’s tweets about mail-in voting, noting that they contained “potentially misleading information about voting processes.”

The platform last week added a “manipulated media” advisory after Trump tweeted a clip of a black toddler and a white toddler edited to include a fake CNN chyron reading “terrified todler runs from racist baby.”

Twitter’s increased involvement has led to claims of censorship from Trump and other conservatives.

“The President tweets that people should stop breaking the law and Twitter moves to censor him,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted. “The left is uncomfortable that in a vibrant democracy, citizens have a right to hear directly from their President and decide for themselves what to think about it. #StopTheBias!”

The president last month signed an executive order that aims to strip certain legal protections from social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook. Legal experts said the measure may not hold up in court, however.

An identical post Tuesday from Trump threatening protesters who seek to establish an “autonomous zone” in D.C. remains untouched on Facebook, which has been criticized in recent weeks for its hands-off approach to political content.

The Hill has reached out to representatives for the platform on the post.

– Chris Mills Rodrigo contributed

Updated at 5:51 p.m.

Tags DC protest Donald Trump Kevin McCarthy Trump tweets Twitter
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