Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues

Hillicon Valley: Twitter flags Trump tweet for 'glorifying violence' | Cruz calls for criminal investigation into Twitter over alleged sanctions violations | Senators urge FTC to investigate TikTok child privacy issues
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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

TWITTER FLAGS TRUMP TWEETS: Twitter on Friday put a warning on a tweet from President Trump, saying it violates the platform's rules against glorifying violence.


Early Friday morning, Trump tweeted about the protests in Minneapolis over the police killing of George Floyd, saying, “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen” while saying that he could order military action if the protests continue.

The president ended the tweet with, “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

Twitter Communications said that the early morning post “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.”

“We've taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts, but have kept the Tweet on Twitter because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance,” the communications team continued.

Engagements on Trump’s post will be limited due to the public interest warning, the social media platform said. Users will be able to retweet with a comment but will not be able to reply, like or retweet without a comment.

Trump also tore into the demonstrations with the pair of tweets shortly after midnight.

"I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership,” Trump wrote. “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.” 


Twitter also placed a warning on a tweet from the official White House account Friday that mirrored Trump's.

Read more about the tweets here.

REPUBLICANS WANT ANSWERS: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOh, Canada: Should the US emulate Canada's National Health Service? Trump tweets his support for Goya Foods amid boycott Trump says he'll sign order with 'road to citizenship' for DACA recipients MORE (R-Texas) on Friday called on the Trump administration to open a criminal investigation into allegations that Twitter had violated U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Cruz made his request the same day other top administration officials criticized Twitter for allowing accounts of top Iranian officials to remain active while flagging a tweet by President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE for “glorifying violence.”

In a letter to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrWe haven't seen how low it can go Trump lashes out at Toomey, Romney after Roger Stone clemency criticism GOP senator says Trump commuting Stone was a 'mistake' MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Supreme Court upholds NY prosecutors' access to Trump's tax returns, rebuffs Congress | Trump complains of 'political prosecution' | Biden rebukes Trump, rolls out jobs plan Mnuchin: Next stimulus bill must cap jobless benefits at 100 percent of previous income Why Trump can't make up his mind on China MORE, Cruz alleged that Twitter had violated sanctions by allowing the accounts of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to stay active. 

Both Khamenei and Zarif were sanctioned under an executive order signed by Trump last year for promoting terrorism, advancing its ballistic missile program and targeting U.S. civilian vessels. 

“In early April, Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information,” Cruz wrote. “They use their accounts provided by Twitter to threaten and taunt their enemies real and imagined. In any event, Twitter’s corporate values and grave misapprehension of the threat that Khamenei and Zarif pose are irrelevant.”

Cruz had written to Twitter in February outlining his concerns around the Iranian accounts.

Twitter responded to Cruz that the company did not apply its “violent extremist” policy to the accounts because of the “public interest in learning about these types of statements” from military or government accounts.

Twitter also pointed to the COVID-19 crisis as a reason to allow the accounts to remain active.

“With Iran’s people uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter is also a place where officials can communicate the challenges they are facing, as well as be held to account by a global audience for their actions,” the company wrote to Cruz. “We believe this Twitter use case is essential in times of crisis.”

Cruz’s letter was sent the same day Twitter flagged a tweet of Trump's that threatened military action in response to riots in Minneapolis over the police killing of George Floyd. Trump tweeted that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” prompting Twitter to flag the tweet for “glorifying violence.”

Read more about the criticism here.

MORE CONCERNS AROUND TIKTOK: A bipartisan group of four senators on Friday urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate allegations that TikTok violated child privacy commitments it made to resolve a prior complaint.

The short-form video-sharing platform last year agreed to settle with the agency over charges that one of its predecessors, Musical.ly, violated the federal law governing privacy safeguards for children online.

Under the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, developers of apps geared toward children cannot collect personally identifiable information on users under the age of 13 without consent from parents or legal guardians.

The complaint, which also resulted in a $5.7 million fine, alleged the company collected without consent the names, emails and videos of users under the age of 13.

TikTok agreed as part of the settlement to obtain parental permission before collecting personal information and to delete any information about users identified as under 13.

Earlier this month, 20 children's and consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that TikTok violated the privacy commitments made in the settlement.

Read more about TikTok privacy concerns here.

RETURN OF THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE: Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) called Friday for a social media “fairness doctrine” to allow experts to respond to flagged posts, pointing to the conflict stirred up this week when Twitter flagged some of President Trump’s tweets. 


The social media giant first flagged as misleading two of Trump’s tweets on mail-in voting that suggested without evidence that this method leads to higher rates of voter fraud.

Trump pushed back with force Thursday, signing an executive order that targeted the legal liability protections of social media groups that prevents them from being sued for what is posted on their platforms.

Twitter then flagged another Trump tweet on Friday morning, labeling it as “glorifying violence.” The tweet appeared to threaten military action in response to protests in Minneapolis over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.  

Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, said during a taping of The Hill’s “Coronavirus Report” that there should be a solution that defeats “speech with speech.”

“Let's say the President is tweeting out conspiracy theories about Joe Scarborough,” Khanna said, referring to Trump’s tweets earlier this week about an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory regarding the death of an aide that worked for the former Florida congressman. 

“Well why not allow the widower who doesn't want the president tweeting about his deceased wife, why not give him the opportunity to send a response and that response Twitter could send to every person who clicks on the President’s tweets?” Khanna suggested.

“Or why not allow someone to respond to the president’s claims about ballot fraud?”


“What I would say is, you defeat speech with speech. But you didn't give one person a huge megaphone and not allow a fair response,” he added.

Read more of Khanna's comments here.

INSTACART WOES: A group of Democratic senators on Friday sent two letters raising concerns over the tipping system for grocery delivery service Instacart.

In a letter to the company, the lawmakers were critical of the service allowing buyers to promise large tips and then reduce them after the orders are completed, a practice known as "tip baiting."

"People are facing unprecedented economic hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic and so we hope online delivery companies like yours are taking the necessary steps to protect shoppers and prevent unfair and deceptive practices," the lawmakers, led by Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzCensus workers prepare to go door-knocking in pandemic Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (D-Hawaii), wrote to Instacart founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta.

In a separate letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the lawmakers urged the agency to investigate the tipping system for being "misleading and unfair."

“Particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique risks that online delivery shoppers are taking, we believe the tipping policy at Instacart and other similar companies deserve scrutiny,” the senators wrote to FTC chairman Joseph Simons.

Democratic Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities IRS chief pledges to work with Congress on examining tax code's role in racial wealth disparities MORE (Ohio), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenMaryland GOP governor who's criticized Trump says he's considering 2024 presidential run Communist China won't change — until its people and the West demand it Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE (Md.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE (Mass.) joined Schatz on both letters.

A spokesperson for Instacart told The Hill later on Friday that tip baiting is a rare occurrence on the platform, pointing to data about tip rates during the pandemic.

“Our goal is to deliver a high-quality experience for both customers and shoppers. By allowing customers to tip after delivery based on their overall service, we see shopper tips increase or stay the same on 99.5% of orders," they said.

Read more about tipping concerns here.

WILLKOMMEN, TWITTER: A German government official on Thursday courted Twitter to relocate its headquarters as the social media giant faces tensions with President Trump

“Hey @Twitter & @jack, this is an invitation to move to Germany! Here you are free to criticize the government as well as to fight fake news,”  tweeted Thomas Jarzombek, who oversees tech affairs for Germany’s Economic Affairs Ministry. 

“We have a great startup and tech ecosystem, your company would be a perfect fit and I will open any doors for you!” he added, tagging Trump. 

On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aimed at increasing the ability of the government to regulate social media platforms. 

The move follows a multi-day feud between the president and Twitter after the social media giant applied a misinformation label to one of the president's tweets for the first time Tuesday. 

Read more here.

Lighter click: The moose has the right idea

An op-ed to chew on: Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting--here’s why


Troll farms from Macedonia and the Philippines pushed coronavirus disinformation Facebook (NBC News / Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny) 

Google rescinds offers to thousands of contract workers (The New York Times / Daisuke Wakabayashi) 

While Twitter confronts Trump, Zuckerberg keeps Facebook well out of it (The New York Times / Mike Issac and Cecilia King) 

European government officials call for tech companies to loosen grip on contact tracing technology (The Washington Post / Reed Albergotti) 

Tech’s diversity efforts are at a crossroads: Make progress or backslide (Protocol / Biz Carson and Sofie Kodner)